The plan to keep rural firefighters supplied with water on fire fronts via 5000 litre skid units at Rural Fire Brigade depots became reality at Ilfracombe last week, when lightning started four grass fires.
The tanks, developed by the Rural Fire Brigade Association of Queensland and donated to brigades for deployment to refill 500l slip-on units being used in fighting bushfires, was given the thumbs up by Ilfracombe RFB first officer Mark Tysoe.
"It made a big difference," he said.
"One trough three kilometres away was our closest turnaround point for water and it could only supply 1500l at one time.
"The next closest water points were 10km away at Ilfracombe or 8km away at the Newstead homestead.
"The unit could move along with the fire front so water was always available."
RFBAQ general manager Justin Choveaux first proposed the units in 2022, citing western Queensland's population decline as a threat to effective firefighting.
"By changing the type of equipment we supply, a person can stay on the fire ground 10 times longer because they've got 10 times the water," he said at the time.
Mr Tysoe said the unit at Ilfracombe had been donated by the RFBAQ and had been sited at the Ilfracombe Fire Station.
"There's a standpipe there - loading the tank, filling it with water and strapping it down took half an hour," he said.
"We had nine slip-on units from Brutus Creek and North Ilfracombe rural brigades, as well as various trucks and trailers, at the fires on Newstead, Padua and Beaconsfield, and whenever one went past the tanker, it got topped up."
Ironically, the storm that brought the lightning at Ilfracombe dumped 44mm on Barcaldine, an hour to the east.