Fire fighting: red tape comes first
Photo: Fire fighting crew burning a firebreak along a drain at the eastern edge of town on Sunday – their outstanding efforts should not be undermined by red tape in other quarters.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
Government red tape continues merrily as bushfires are encircling the town.
A grader operator from Central Plant Hire was making his way up the Stuart Highway last week to cut fire breaks near the Holcim quarry, about 10 km north of town.
The massive blaze was moving towards buildings and machinery there.
It was a volunteer job.
“You don’t scam on something like this,” says the firm’s Wayne Cullenane.
On the way the driver passed the government weighbridge and he was made to stop.
As it turned out the grader was parked on its trailer a little too far back, putting 1075 kilos (four to five wheelbarrow loads of sand) more weight than allowed on one axle.
The other axle was eight tonnes light.
Given this was an emergency, and the driver was trying to save property and maybe lives, the weighbridge staff could have said: “Just take her forward a bit, mate. And good on ya!”
Moving the machine just half a meter on the trailer would have put both axles about four tonnes each under weight.
But what the weighbridge staff did instead was to hold up the transport for about two hours.
They booked the driver.
He may have to go to court.
There may be a fine of several hundred dollars.
When the machine finally got to the quarry the fire was nearly upon it.
The grader operator could feel the heat of the flames, says Mr Cullenane.
The Alice Springs News Online is seeking comment from Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton.