Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) has unveiled its latest recruit – in the form of a 4×4 Mercedes-Benz Incident Support Unit (ISU), which will be used to coordinate major incidents and comes equipped with the latest in modern technology.
The long-bodied V6 engine van, which has a five-litre engine, has been specially converted for ‘command and control’ operations and is fitted with cutting edge communications technology that can be used by up to five personnel.
The ISU is a key component of Northumberland County Council’s and the fire and rescue service’s strategy for managing incidents safely and effectively.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark McCarty explained, “This custom built vehicle will allow us to deliver our services in a more coordinated and professional manner and mean we are better able to protect our communities at a time of increased risk from floods and other natural events.
“This is a real ‘go-anywhere’ vehicle which means we can operate anywhere across a county that includes some very challenging terrain.”
The vehicle includes a roof-mounted foldable satellite dish and camera mounted on a retractable six-metre mast – giving a birds-eye view of an incident. The technology can be linked to rapid deployable and body worn cameras worn by firefighters.
An awning and eternal hatch through which a 40in screen can be viewed means the area beside the vehicle can also be used for briefings.
NFRS Technical Officer Steve Kennedy added, “The communications systems on the vehicle will allow us to pass messages and stream live, real time images and data back to HQ from wherever we are. We can also carry out video conferences and comprehensive incident debriefs based on the passage of information and audits of all decisions made which are recorded in the vehicle.”
Dave Ledger, Policy Board Member for NFRS said, “The vehicle and the on-board communications technology are cutting edge. Everything the fire service does is ultimately about saving lives and this vehicle will give frontline firefighters and management teams greater support to safely and effectively perform their roles in often dangerous conditions.”