WITH bushfires raging across NSW this summer there's been one constant - the Black Panther and she's helping to save lives.
This bulk water carrier, nicknamed the Black Panther by firefighters, is a game-changer and she's big - 20 tonnes including a full load of 12.5 tonnes of water.
And, as an ex-police vehicle it's also got bullet resistant windows.
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Based in Cobar, the Black Panther is the only one of its kind in the region and this bushfire season it has already been deployed all over NSW to help battle blazes.
It was recently sent to help protect the historic Caves House at Jenolan Caves, as well as other deployments to Goulburn, Mittagong, Bowral and Jindabyne.
The vehicle was originally purchased by NSW Police for its Public Order and Riot Squad, but it was soon handed over to Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) so it could be used more often.
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FRNSW Dubbo Station Officer Simon Bracht said a "normal" fire truck carries just under 2000 litres of water and in a fire this runs out very quickly.
"We can potentially go through that in five minutes, or under that if we're using bigger hoses," he said.
Station Officer Bracht said crews are often called to fight fires in rural or semi-rural locations where there is no town water to fill up their trucks and this can hamper firefighting efforts.
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"You don't have to go very far out of Dubbo or other Central West towns to not have town water," he said.
"I can name several instances where we've gone to a house fire one or two kilometres out of town and have been scrambling for water."
This is where the Black Panther comes into its own.
Its powerful pump can refill a smaller firefighting truck within two minutes allowing firefighters to get on with the job of extinguishing fires quicker and saving lives.
Station Officer Bracht said every minute counts when fighting a fire.
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"The quicker you get a large amount of water on it [the fire] the better you'll be," he said.
On Monday night the Black Panther was also put to work to help extinguish a bushfire that was burning near the netball courts along the river.
VIDEO: Jenolan Caves RFS brigade escaping the inferno
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