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THE REMOVALIST SUPERHERO: ICON ASBESTOS

Asbestos: once the mainstay in construction, and now the dreaded material in properties. Asbestos had begun to be heavily commercialised in the 1800s for the construction industry, and as early as 1897, lung diseases were being linked to asbestos inhalation. However, the material was so popular due to its insulation properties that it wasn’t banned in Australia until 2003.

Asbestos is still present in many older buildings and infrastructures today, and its removal is a specialised operation trusted to the experts, such as ICON Asbestos Removal. And even during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, essential work like removal of asbestos and other dangerous materials can’t cease operating.

Curtis Lyons has been in the demolition and asbestos removal industry for more than seven years, working with various asbestos removal companies before establishing ICON Asbestos Removal in 2017. Curtis started the business with just himself as an employee, and the business has now grown to employ a full crew.

Any removalist business requires sound and flexible transportation arrangements, as Curtis realised. He had started out by borrowing an Isuzu truck off a friend, and then began hiring trucks—but quickly realised it was costing him more to hire than it was to buy a truck.

Not only that, hiring added extra hassle for Curtis and his crew, as the hired trucks had to be returned before close of business, fully washed and clean of asbestos contamination and approved by a hygienist.

Finally tiring of that set-up in 2018, Curtis went to Brisbane Isuzu in Burpengary, Queensland, bought a new Isuzu FRR 107-210 Tipper and hasn’t looked back since. For Curtis, the FRR Tipper is perfect for his business, making loading and unloading asbestos easy.

ICON does everything from residential to commercial removal, including work that requires a Class A licence (Workplace Health and Safety). Class A asbestos removal includes a higher risk, such as in removing friable asbestos—asbestos that is in a powder form and therefore more likely to release fibres into the air—and removing asbestos in locations such as government, factories, schools and hospitals.

Especially in ICON’s line of work, the safety of employees is paramount; crew members are suited up with respirators and other personal protective equipment, and decontamination showers are provided. With ICON’s already stringent safety and sanitary measures, their standard operating procedure has gone relatively unchanged during COVID-19; the only difference now is that they’re quoting jobs via photography or postponing jobs that require close physical contact.

Thankfully for ICON’s crew, the work hasn’t slowed down, and Curtis said, “With people at home, they’re starting on personal house projects and need the asbestos removed.

“One of our customers is using the time off to convert his garage into an area for his daughter. His whole garage is lined with asbestos, so he’s called us in to remove it so he can start his project.”

Once the asbestos is carefully removed, it is then carefully loaded onto the back of the FRR 107-210 Tipper, which is double-lined with plastic to seal up the removed material, and it’s then brought to licensed dumps.

Curtis couldn’t be happier with how gracefully his FRR 107-210 Tippers fits within his business. The power of the truck, sitting at 154 kW @ 2,400 rpm and with 726 Nm @ 1,600 rpm, was something he didn’t expect from a truck of that size.

“It still surprises me sometimes on the hills,” Curtis said and laughed.

“It probably shocks a few other people in traffic when they see the size of the truck and the heavy load, zooming up a hill without a problem.”

And with the FRR 107-210 Tipper’s 10.7-tonne GVM and 16-tonne GCM, hauling heavy loads isn’t a problem—and the truck’s a breeze to drive.

Curtis said, “The most impressive thing is that I’ve got a heavy load with over five tonnes in it and the truck is still driveable through Brisbane traffic.”

Not only power, the truck is a perfect balance between being compact enough to access tight, hard-to-reach spaces and having enough space for its application.

“With residential works, we can easily get the FRR Tipper down the side access or through driveways with tiny gates… But the truck bed size—you can get two asbestos sheets next to each other, side by side.

“This means we can keep the weight down nice and low, and get two or three jobs in each truck load without having to go to the tip.”

The height on the FRR Tipper means Curtis can see everything on the road, even with weight on the trailer.

“It’s great because we can see what’s coming up ahead and stop earlier if we have to,” Curtis said.

And for him, all these factors contribute to how pleasurable the FRR Tipper is to drive.

“I drive it every day, about five to six days a week, but it’s not a chore to drive,” Curtis enthused.

“It’s actually very good and I’m more than happy to jump in the truck and go for a drive.”

The only thing that could make this truck better is if it never stopped working. And for Curtis, that’s been the case.

Despite racking up 53,000 kilometres in a year and over 1,000 kilometres per week, Curtis has not had any issues or downtimes.

For Curtis, this and the accessibility of the Isuzu Trucks authorised dealerships and service centres across the country means he and his ICON crew will never be left stranded. The salespeople at Brisbane Isuzu helped Curtis through all the aspects of the sale, including aftersales support.

Happy with the service, Curtis said, “The guys there put in the time to go through and explain the different models.

“Buying a new truck can be confusing, so the biggest benefit is having people that you can just go in and talk to.”

Curtis is sold on Isuzu trucks, and is looking to expand his Isuzu fleet with an Isuzu Tradepack for transporting tools and equipment, which would allow their Tipper to leave site early for the dump and the guys to get home earlier.

“If I had an Isuzu truck and another truck side by side to choose from, I’d go with the Isuzu every time.

“And we’re excited to get our hands on the new Tradepack and really make the most of the opportunities that come with today’s challenges… We want to come out flying when the restrictions ease.”

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