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Firies test out new tools of the trade

Tuesday, 28th July, 2009

By Stefan Delatovic

Local firefighters were given the keys to their new fire engine yesterday, alongside a visceral demonstration of a kitchen fire.

Country Labor Duty MLC, Tony Catanzariti, officially presented the keys to Station Officer Phil Eberle yesterday morning at the Broken Hill Fire Station.

While it was a ceremonial gesture - the vehicle has been in use since June 8 - the $578,000 engine was welcome.

It is specifically designed for use in urban and regional areas. It carries state-of-the-art rescue gear, holds 4,000 litres of water and includes a foam system, electronic message board and GPS unit.

Chief Superintendent, Regional West, Neil Harris said that the devices were being sent out around NSW by the State Government. "This recognises the great work that Broken Hill crews are doing in regional NSW," he said. The locals also took ownership of a kitchen fire simulator worth $3,000, which is used in safety demonstrations.

Supt West said this was evidence of the locals' excellent work in community education.

Mr Catanzariti said the city was well served by its firefighters. The kitchen fire simulator was particularly timely, he said, given that the local firies responded to a house fire on Saturday which started in the kitchen. A smoke alarm in the house alerted a neighbour in the early hours of the morning and a man was later taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. "A majority of house fires across NSW start in the kitchen," said Mr Catanzariti. "In Broken Hill firefighters responded to 380 incidents last year and held over 800 safety activities.

"Their commitment to education and prevention is recognised. During the first two months of winter in 2009 they responded to one house fire, rather than the ten the previous year."

The kitchen fire simulator shows how just 200ml of oil left unattended on a stove can engulf a home in flames and smoke. Pouring water on a small kitchen fire - often a first, panicked reaction - causes the water to evaporate into steam and explode. Firefighter Melanie Rebane, who gave a demonstration of the device at yesterday's ceremony, said smothering the fire was the way to put it out.

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