THE absence of open water channels and channel-fed dams has exposed ground crews to problems fighting fires in the Wimmera.
Gooroc fire captain Neale Postlethwaite said he had raised the issue of a shortage of rapid-fill water tanks with Northern Grampians Shire after a recent 550ha crop fire that burned through stubble and grains on three farms north of St Arnaud.
Farmers and firefighters said the fire exposed how changes in farm layout, water supply and no-fallow cultivation practices had increased fire dangers for firefighters in trucks.
Farmer and Gooroc brigade member Barry Batters said it was the first big fire in the district since the channel was filled in about 18 months ago - reducing the natural fire breaks and walk-up access to water.
"We've got to address the idea of having more and appropriate size tanks to fill things like the helicopter, with open lids, and enough access points for the fire trucks," he said.
The Gooroc fire threatened two houses and even the Gooroc fire shed, before it was brought under control by the Elvis air crane chopper. The CFA had 29 fire trucks on the ground but they had to queue to replenish water - one at a time.
Mr Postlethwaite said in previous years trucks could take on water at multiple points from the open channel or channel-filled dams - now replaced by underground pipes.