Lighter, narrower and more manoeuvrable – a ‘mini’ fire engine has been launched into north west Kent.
The new slimline pump goes into action at Swanscombe on-call fire station and from there will be sent out on jobs across Dartford and Gravesham, as well as further into the county when required.
The 12-tonne vehicle weighs six tonnes less than its predecessor.
While it doesn’t have the heavy duty car-cutting equipment of bigger models, it does have a range of other specialist technology, is cheaper and is more efficient on water and fuel.
The engine is one of 29 being rolled out around the county, but Swanscombe is among the first.
It is £50,000 cheaper than existing pumps, which had reached the end of their life and needed replacing. It will stay in service for at least 15 years.
“As firefighters we never know what emergency we will be called to next – it could be a house fire, a car crash or someone having a heart attack" - John Allwright
John Allwright, watch manager at Swanscombe, said: “As firefighters we never know what emergency we will be called to next – it could be a house fire, a car crash or someone having a heart attack or other medical emergency.
“This new fire engine with its latest technology, defibrillators and first-aid equipment, will help us deal with those emergencies, benefiting not only the firefighters but the community as well.”
Currently, fire crews use less than half of the equipment on their vehicles for most jobs and while the big engines will be kept for big jobs, the nippy little versions work better for smaller incidents. They are also easier down country lanes or narrow streets.
The engine has the latest firefighting technology too – a fog spike – which is used to punch holes into a structure to deliver water inside of compartments, creating a super-fine misting effect that can dramatically reduce the spread of a fire.
Mr Allwright added: “It benefits from a compressed air foam system (CAFS) which uses only a small amount of water to quickly and effectively suppress a wide range of fires.
“It holds the same amount of water as the more traditionally-sized engines but has a larger capacity hose allowing a higher volume of water to pass through so we can tackle fires much more effectively.”
Dymchurch, Sevenoaks, Paddock Wood, Wingham, Sevenoaks, Headcorn and Margate currently have a small engine and other fire stations will receive them in the forthcoming months as training is rolled out.