"The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do."
Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia, Inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, August 1996.

Fire Tankers - Lead Article

Barry Marsden (bio)

The two videos connected through this page were produced by Rawdon Sthradher. Rawdon was originally a photographer and video producer with the Soil Conservation Authority and then CF&L in all its various guises for 12 years. He freelanced for the next 20 years, and in that time still did quite a bit of work for Fire Management, Fisheries and other sections of the Department.


This article describes the main tanker versions between 1950 and 2014.

Fire Equipment - Tanker Descriptions

This article is connected to, and best read in conjunction with, Fire Tankers-Lead Article

1950: Blitz Tanker 4x4

Purchased from the RAAF in Amberley Queensland after the second World War.
Exact capacity of water tank and make of pump unknown. A low-down hand-operated back-up pump and tank-mounted hose reel are visible in the photo.

Fire Retardant Mixing Systems

Barry Marsden (bio)

In 1939, Victoria was one of the first locations in the world to trial the ‘bombing’ of bush-fires using aircraft, and in 1967 the Forests Commission (FCV) made the first operational use of aerial-firebombing in Australia using two fixed-wing agricultural aircraft.

Overseas experience and earlier local trials had suggested that mixing water with chemicals, to create a fire retardant, made operations far more effective. Retardants were subsequently found to be particularly useful in slowing the spread of lightning-caused fires in inaccessible terrain, thereby improving the likely success and safety of follow-up ground crews.

This photo gallery includes all photos in the article below and will have more added over time.

Remote Area Firefighting

Self-Supporting and Framed Water Storage Tanks

Barry Marsden (bio)


Remote area fire-fighting was a difficult and physical operation for a fire crew in the 1950s and '60s. Several methods used were ‘dry’ fire-fighting techniques using rake-hoes and shovels, and ‘blacking- out’ using a ‘hose relay’ system.

Foam in Forest Firefighting

Barry Marsden (bio)

This paper sets out the history of Class A Foam use in Victoria, giving full details of equipment development
and the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches.

Water is often in short supply, especially in more remote areas. In some locations, use of "dry fire fighting", in which little or no water is used, is obligatory. Water may be transported some distance, and while it is usually available free at the source, it can be very expensive at the point of application. Also, the availability of a small quantity of water at a particular time may be critical to control of the fire. Therefore, every effort must be made to use this resource efficiently and effectively.