Cobar Fire Station 256 took delivery of a new fire truck yesterday that, for the first time in Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) history, carries a personalised registration plate to honour fallen firefighter Daniel ‘Howie’ Howard.
FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins presented local firefighters with keys to the new $310,000 ‘Class 2’ Pumper Mercedes Benz fire truck yesterday morning at the Cobar station.
The new truck carries the numberplate ‘Howies’ in a unique tribute to the firefighter who passed away while fighting a fire.
Howie was fatally injured by falling debris when a wall collapsed at the height of firefighting operations at the New Occidental Hotel last August.
His death deeply affected the township of Cobar and the entire NSW firefighting family.
Commissioner Mullins said ‘Howies’ truck has the latest equipment and technology, which will increase the capacity of FRNSW firefighters to deal with fires, accidents, chemical spills and other emergencies.
“This is a just a small but unique gesture to keep Firefighter Howard’s memory alive,” Commissioner Mullins said.
Members of Mr Howard’s family joined local FRNSW personnel at the unveiling of the new truck yesterday.
The new state-of-the art Mercedes Benz truck has a larger cabin than previous trucks, providing greater comfort and also safety for firefighters.
It also contains a number of improved features including being an automatic (as opposed to manual drive), it has digital controls, a reversing camera, extra radios at the back of the truck, additional lighting and is designed to produce less fuel emissions making it more environmentally friendly.
The rear of the truck has also been remounted and modified to provide more room for equipment.
Four of the Cobar staff have already completed two hours of cross-over training on the new truck and a senior instructor will be coming out to the station again in the near future to train the rest of the pumpers.
Commissioner Mullins said the personalised numberplate was secretly organised by former Zone Commander Adam Dewberry.
“Knowing that Cobar was due for a new fire truck, he approached me to request a personalised numberplate for the new truck and I thought it was a perfect way of commemorating Firefighter Howard,” Commissioner Mullins said.
“The details of the new numberplate were kept a secret from the crew until today.”
He said the number plate will be transferred to new trucks that come into the station so that Howie’s memory will never be forgotten.