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Docklands luxury cruiser blaze sign of poor resources

by Media Services on 22 Mar 2012
The luxury cruiser was only delivered to its owners the day before it was demolished by fire. .. ©
The $4m 27m cruiser that sank after an inferno on a Docklands marina had been delivered to its new owners just yesterday.

Four people were aboard the 24m cruiser when it erupted into flames about 4.30pm, sending plumes of black smoke across the city.

The inferno took hours to extinguish as firefighters struggled to apply fire-retardant foam. Today, Melbourne fire fighters have told media the lack of a purpose-built boat to tackle fires on the city's waterways is endangering lives.

They said when fire fighters were called to the blaze, they only had a small pump and hose on a tinnie to fight the fire from the water. The blaze took three hours to extinguish and the boat was destroyed. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

Peter Marshall from the United Firefighters Union (UFU) says the risk to members who fought the fire is unacceptable.

He says the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) has the money to buy a large fire fighting boat, but the project has been delayed by years of bureaucratic bungling.

'They need fire boats, they have the money for fire boats. Why haven't they bought those boats? Buy the boat or sack the board. This has gone on long enough.'

Shane Wright, the chief fire officer of the MFB, says the board has decided to buy a bigger boat but it has to go out to tender.

He says they have been unable to find another one to use in the interim. 'We tried to source one in the last few weeks, unsuccessfully, and we will continue to do that until our tenders are finished. But the realities are we are doing the best that we can at the moment and we will continue to try and source an interim solution.'

The manager of the Docklands Yarra Edge, Allan Cayzer, says having better fire fighting resources may not have made a difference.

'Boats are designed and built to not allow water to get down below,' he said. 'So no matter what resources we've got, until the fire is well involved you're not going to get water in to it.'
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