Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service launches Rapid Response Vehicle trial

Two new additions to Cumbria County Council‘s Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s fleet were revealed for the first time to county councillors and South Lakeland District Councillors on 20 March at County Offices, Kendal. The new Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs) will be ‘on the run’ at Arnside and Staveley fire stations from the beginning of April, for a six month trial.

The innovative vehicles, which will be crewed by three firefighters, have an ultra-efficient fire fighting pump, and also carry new equipment that is designed to be operated with fewer staff than previously required. The latest battery operated cutting technology will be carried on the vehicle, so that the firefighters can quickly access potential trapped casualties in road traffic collisions.

Cumbria County Councillor Janet Willis, Cabinet Member for Customers, Transformation and Fire and Rescue, said, “I’m absolutely delighted that we are welcoming these fantastic vehicles to our fleet after significant research, development and consultation. It feels like a real milestone and I’m confident that they will bring benefits in providing quicker response times and will effectively match our resources to demand and risk.”

Chief Fire Officer Steve Healey added, “I am pleased that our new vehicles are soon to be operational and piloted in Arnside and Staveley. This is a new way of responding to emergencies in Cumbria and we’ve looked and learned from other areas of the country, such as North Yorkshire and the West Midlands, who have successfully introduced them. New technology and procedures allow these vehicles to be crewed by fewer staff than a standard fire engine and will increase the availability of our resources in areas of relatively low risk or where there is another standard fire appliance at a fire station close by. They are equipped to be able to respond to, and deal with small incidents on their own and can also attend more serious incidents, such as house fires and road traffic collisions, alongside standard fire engines, and other resources.

“The obvious benefit the RRVs have are that they are far more flexible and agile than full sized appliances. They are all-terrain and given some of the challenges we have in rural areas and with severe weather events that can make areas hard to reach, these vehicles will be invaluable in providing immediate intervention to saves lives and prevent escalation of incidents.”

Throughout the pilot the use of the RRVs and associated concept will be fully evaluated and scrutinised and only if successful will they replace the traditional fire engine at these stations.