The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has recently made operational its first of 12 Rescue Support Vehicles, a multi-purpose platform for supporting rescue, prevention, community education and other operational demands.
Based on Mercedes Sprinter 3.5T high-roof MWB chassis, with full 4WD, the vehicles contain a basic but effective command facility, storage, an advanced electrical charging bank, communications equipment, welfare and changing/privacy areas and a sealed wet hanging area for the drying of PPE and other equipment.
The vehicles were procured from Pentagon Mercedes in Poole, with the majority of coach-building and fit-out carried out at CoTrim vehicle conversions of Salisbury under RNLI supervision.
RNLI Operations Engineer Rob Inett, who designed and project-managed the RSV’s, said, “These new vehicles are a simple but robust interpretation of the concept of a command platform. It’s taken us a long time to get the balance right between simplicity, payload, fit-out, quality and flexibility, but the completed Mk1 version seems to have met the vast majority of requirements with the minimum of installation complexity.
“The first half of the new fleet is intended for use primarily in supporting rescue teams on the group during flood events, but we have designed these with a firm eye on their wider uses in a variety of humanitarian, fundraising, education and operational arenas.”
The first of these new vehicles has now gone into operational service with the RNLI’s South Regional Flood Rescue Team, based in Saltash. It is intended to be deployed as part of a B-type Flood Rescue team, alongside one boat, one towing vehicle and a team of seven or more persons, for up to 10 self-sufficient hours.
Now fitted-out, the RSV has a payload capacity of around 560kg, a towing capacity of 2000kg, seating for four persons and minimum height clearance of approximately 3.2m. In an emergency, the vehicle can wade in up to 50cm of water. The electrical system is supported by a 3.6kVa petrol generator, mains power feed or an on-board 12V battery bank, supporting a wide range of electronic charging, domestic/welfare and heating applications.
The remainder of the fleet is expected to be completed during 2015, with a service life of 10 or more years.