Truck fires in crosshairs of new EPA guide

Reducing the more than 200 truck fires attended by Fire and Rescue NSW each year is one of the key objectives of a new guide issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

Preventing Fires-Truck Inspection Manual by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) aims to give truck drivers the inspection skills to identify and correct faults that have the potential to cause heavy vehicle fires that could endanger lives, livelihoods, and the environment.

“Truck fires are major incidents that can be extremely dangerous and result in smoke and water pollution, cargo loss, and extended road closures,” said Karen Marler, EPA Director of Environmental Solutions.

Many trucks catch fire because of mechanical or electrical faults that a trained eye could have identified.

The Manual will provide a user-friendly guide, developed with the help of industry experts, to show truck operators how to inspect their vehicles and identify problems before they result in a fire.

It also goes beyond pre-journey checks, helping drivers identify faults – such as overheating brakes and electrical faults – while in transit and what to do if a problem develops on the open road that could cause the vehicle to catch fire.

“No driver wants to experience a truck fire and the actions needed to avoid that outcome can be as simple as noticing chafing on high current cables, such as battery cables,” said Marler.

Non-impact truck fires, according to Marler, were the cause of eight per cent of all heavy vehicle insurance claims.

“When the cargo is dangerous goods, the consequence can be particularly high and carry significant risk to the safety of drivers and road users and the environment,” she said.

Marler said the Manual should be in the hands of the maintenance manager of every fleet and every heavy vehicle mechanic as well as drivers.

“The EPA would like to see the Manual adopted as part of regular routine checks,” she said.

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