New vehicles to help tackle environmental incidents

Hantsfire EPUThe Environment Agency and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have unveiled two rapid-response vehicles to help tackle pollution incidents across Hampshire.

Known as Environmental Protection Units (EPUs), the specially equipped VW Crafter vehicles will attend a variety of pollution incidents, including fuel and chemical spills. They also carry equipment to assist with flooding incidents and manage firewater run-off.

The vehicles are part of a national project to supply EPUs to fire and rescue services (FRSs) across the country. Equipped with booms, absorbents, drain mats, storage tanks and emergency pumps, the EPUs can swing into action as soon as they arrive at pollution incidents.

Such equipment was used on 13 January, when a bus caught fire on the B3047 at Chilland, near Winchester. The equipment was used to contain 120 litres of diesel, preventing this fuel from potentially polluting the River Itchen.

Each vehicle will be crewed by a specially trained FRS crew capable of working alone or alongside a fire and rescue appliance. By working in close partnership, the Environment Agency and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service can improve their effectiveness and efficiency when responding to emergencies and help prevent serious pollution.

Area Manager James Humphrys handed over the keys to Chief Fire Officer (CFO) John Bonney at HFRS headquarters at Eastleigh. The two new EPUs will be based at Romsey and Alton fire stations.

Badged in a distinctive fire and rescue service red livery, the new blue light vehicles will also carry the Environment Agency logo.

James Humphrys, Environment Agency Area Manager, said, “Through their quick attendance, equipment and training, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are able to provide an unrivalled response to incidents that threaten the environment.

“Intervening at an early stage using low cost pollution containment equipment prevents an incident from escalating. This reduces both the overall environmental impact and financial cost of an incident.”

CFO John Bonney said, “The new units will allow us to greatly improve our ability to protect the environment and further enhance our partnership with the Environment Agency. This initiative is an excellent example of two agencies working together for the benefit of both the public and the environment.”