Auckland firefighters forced to use rental vehicle after truck break down

A rental truck is covering for a salvage tender, used for mopping up after incidents, at Grey Lynn fire station in Auckland.
David White
A rental truck is covering for a salvage tender, used for mopping up after incidents, at Grey Lynn fire station in Auckland.

An Auckland fire station has been forced to hire a rental truck to cover a salvage tender vehicle with a blown engine.

The president of the NZ Professional Firefighters Union has described the situation as a "really sad state of affairs".

An Auckland firefighting source said the sight of the small white truck inside the Grey Lynn fire station symbolised the level of disrepair of the city's fleet.

The rental truck is replacing the usual salvage tender vehicle, which is out of action after blowing its engine.
David White
The rental truck is replacing the usual salvage tender vehicle, which is out of action after blowing its engine.

Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) said the truck was among four lease vehicles being used in the national fleet.

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The salvage tender vehicle the white truck has replaced is used to carry equipment used for mopping up after operations, for example pumps.

At the time of the SkyCity fire Auckland's newest aerial appliance was removed from service due to cracks in its chassis (file photo).
JASON DORDAY/STUFF
At the time of the SkyCity fire Auckland's newest aerial appliance was removed from service due to cracks in its chassis (file photo).

A commercial vehicle offers the same level of capability, FENZ said.

However, the truck it has temporarily replaced is painted red and can travel above the speed limit under lights and sirens.

The white rental must travel at road speed, meaning it will get to scenes more slowly than the normal salvage tender, Stuff has been told.

CHECKPOINT/RNZ
The massive fire burning at SkyCity's Cconvention Centre has dampened down but fire crews are still battling flames and flare-ups.

Stuff earlier revealed stations in the city were under the pump after nine relatively new appliances were pulled from service for urgent repairs to steel bodywork supports.

It is understood the North Harbour Rentals truck was brought in to temporarily replace a salvage tender vehicle, used for mopping up after operations.

The usual vehicle blew its engine and has been out of action for two or three weeks, Stuff understands.

RICKY WILSON/STUFF
The fire at the SkyCity convention centre started on Tuesday afternoon.

Salvage tenders carry submersible pumps, ventilators and other gear used for cleaning up scenes.

The rental truck does not carry water and is not used for pumping.

NZ Professional Firefighters Union president Ian Wright said the situation was "not ideal".

"I'm sure the police don't have to hire vans," he said.

He felt for the station as a salvage tender is a specialised vehicle for which there are not generally spares, as there were with standard pumping appliances, he said.

Concerns about the state of the firefighting fleet have come to the fore in the wake of the SkyCity Convention Centre fire in October.

A source told Stuff the city's aerial fleet was "in tatters" and more of the tall trucks could have helped bring the fire under control sooner.

That claim was strongly rejected by FENZ regional manager Ron Devlin, who said more aerial appliances would not have changed the outcome of the fire.

Wright said his union was meeting the fleet manager and had discussed the need for a permanent fix to the cracked structural supports, rather than a temporary fix, and FENZ had agreed.

"I'm convinced FENZ wants to make this right."

FENZ organisational strategy and capability development deputy chief executive, Russell Wood, said in a statement four lease vehicles were currently being used in the national fleet.

They included three water tankers.

"We always have varied arrangements in place across the country to ensure we have the capability in place when we need it. These include hiring helicopters and tankers for wildfires and other vehicles as the need arises.

"The truck that is being temporarily replaced by a rental is currently being serviced. It is used to carry clean-up equipment and a commercial truck offers the same level of capability, therefore a rental is the most cost effective way to replace it while it is out of service."

Asked about the white rental van's inability to travel under lights or above the speed limit, Wood said the salvage tender was not a primary response vehicle and does not have a permanent crew.

"All of Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s primary response vehicles can operate under lights and sirens.

"The replacement vehicle is not required to arrive at the incident at the same time as primary response vehicles. It will arrive in a timely fashion."

The three water tankers currently being leased are all in the South Island.

Cracks were first discovered in one MAN Type 3 truck during a certificate of compliance inspection.

There are 47 of the new trucks, which began entering service in 2015.

Stuff