Slimline fire appliance piloted in Hampshire

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Response Delivery Station Manager Gina Gray, who works on the FRC project.

A new fire appliance is being piloted on Hampshire’s roads that will enable crews to respond to incidents more quickly.

This vehicle, the First Response Capability (FRC), is being trialled in Alton, where it will be evaluated by firefighters on the ground. It comes following approval of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Integrated Risk Management Plan, created as part of the Risk Review project, to improve the service and make it more efficient.

Historically all frontline appliances were mobilised to incidents with no less than four riders. It can be difficult to maintain sufficient cover in our rural retained stations and, as a result, some appliances are ‘off-the-run’ for long periods of time. The FRC will be able to respond quicker as the vehicle can be crewed by two to four people. This will increase the opportunity for retained stations to attend local incidents and make an effective first strike, where they would previously have been off-the-run unless a team of at least four was available.

The pilot is based upon an Iveco Daily seven-tonne chassis, fitted with a bespoke fire appliance body that is shorter and more slimline than traditional fire appliances, giving it greater manoeuvrability on the roads. As part of a year-long evaluation the FRC will be trialled at several stations, both retained and wholetime, to provide a wider range of evidence and allow a large number of operational staff to contribute to the development and design.

The FRC is equipped with a 7m ladder, 1000-litre capacity water tank, hose reel, breathing apparatus, eDraulic cutting gear and Immediate Emergency Care equipment. The Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) fan, thermal imaging cameras and Ultra-High Pressure Lance will also make it effective in providing early intervention.

Response Delivery Station Manager Gina Gray, who works on the FRC project, said, “This is a really impressive addition to the fleet and gives our service the chance to respond to incidents in the best way. The new vehicle increases availability at our rural retained stations as it allows us to send an on-call crew out with two or three people instead of being off-the-run if we don’t have four people available. Until now, a fire engine would have to be called in from farther away to deal with an incident, whereas now we can get to nearby incidents to provide initial actions while other vehicles are being mobilised.

“During the pilot we will always provide the full response plan to incidents. However, Alton has already shown it can resolve some incidents with a crew of three without the need for further resources.

“The FRC is an additional vehicle type in the fleet, not a replacement, and it will improve firefighter availability at retained stations.”

Deputy Chief Officer Neil Odin said, “I am extremely pleased to see the launch of this pilot vehicle, which reflects the hard work and ingenuity of our teams who have designed it with front line crews. This is part of an array of new technology and strategies that will keep our firefighters safer and help them deliver a faster, more effective service to the public.”

This pilot vehicle has been rolled out as part of a three-tiered fleet that also includes traditional appliances and the recently launched Intermediate Capability.

The new vehicles will run in conjunction with the groundbreaking approach devised by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service called SAVE – Scan, Attack, Ventilate and Enter and Extinguish.

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