Firefighting rescues up to 15 storeys high are now in the capability of Newcastle's firefighters thanks to a new $2.3 million truck commissioned at the station.
The truck is fitted with a 45 metre Bronto Skylift Ladder Platform, making it the highest reaching vehicle of any fire service in Australia. The platform can also be used below ground level for incidents such as car crashes down embankments.
It surpasses the station's former ladder platform, which was 37 metres high, and can also carry 500kg as opposed to 400kg. Further improvements include an infrared camera to pick up heat signals and beam images live to other locations.
Fire and Rescue NSW Newcastle Lake Macquarie zone commander Superintendent Greg Windeatt said the new machine enhanced the crew's capabilities.
"With the growing high rise profile around Newcastle it increases our capacity if we need to rescue someone from a heights situation and also with large area buildings, it allows us to reach right over to the middle of the building," he said.
FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter, Emergency Services Minister David Elliott and Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin were on hand on Thursday to see the new vehicle. Mr Elliott said it was important to provide a city like Newcastle with modern equipment.
"Newcastle is very much an economic powerhouse for NSW and that's attracting a lot of investment. With that investment comes built infrastructure like high density development, taller buildings and for that reason Newcastle needed state of the art equipment and that's what they've been given today.
"It's all very well having a professionally trained Fire and Rescue but what we have to have is also the most professional equipment."
Mr Martin said the Hunter deserved to have the best firefighting resources.
"With a lot of tall buildings being built here in Newcastle, it's definitely the right time to be providing this kind of equipment," he said.
The visit included a tour of the station, which has recently undergone a $930,000 upgrade to separate single bathroom and resting areas into male and female, and install a protective clothing room to keep carcinogens away from staff areas. They also visited Minmi Fire Station following a $530,000 upgrade which delivered a new watch and training room.