New delay for £500k fire engine

A STATE-of-the-art fire engine which helped Suffolk Fire Service win a prestigious environmental award is still not ready to use - six months after its planned launch date, the EADT can reveal.

Russell Claydon

A STATE-of-the-art fire engine which helped Suffolk Fire Service win a prestigious environmental award is still not ready to use - six months after its planned launch date, the EADT can reveal.

Fire chiefs say the £500,000 combined aerial rescue pump (Carp) - combining a fire engine and turntable ladder in one vehicle - is currently too heavy.

So it has emerged the vehicle has now been sent back to the manufacturer for alterations before it can finally take to the road.


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It is an unfortunate blow for Suffolk fire service, which won a top prize at last year's National Energy Efficiency Awards off the back of plans to introduce the new engine, which was heralded it for its environmental and financial benefits.

Suffolk was also due to be the first brigade in the UK to introduce the vehicle.

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But problems emerged when it first received the Carp at the beginning of July, and they have still not been resolved.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark Sanderson said yesterday: “We are continuing to work together with the supplier to make sure that the work on the vehicle is carried out in line with our plans, and we hope that all the problems can be rectified as quickly as possible.”

Meant to act as an aerial platform and fire engine in one operating from Bury St Edmunds, the initial testing discovered there was a danger the turntable ladder could topple over.

The problems stemmed from the vehicle being 800kg over the legal road weight when fully loaded.

It is how emerged it has been sent back to the manufacturers where they are looking to carry out alterations to reduce the weight.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the fire service said: “We have not purchased it yet and it still belongs to the agent so we will not be taking any legal action.

“The company has taken it away without prejudice and it means nothing will come back on us. They are looking to see what modifications they can do and they are going to make it lighter but they will not be taking the capacity away from water.

“They have other more technical ways of making it lighter without jeopardising the water space.”

She added: “There is absolutely no obligation for us to take it if it is not working out.”

Steve Collins, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU), said the FBU would scrutinise a risk assessment which had been carried out to ensure the vehicle was up to the demanding job of effectively acting as two vehicles.

Two aerial appliances with turntable ladders will continue to operate until the replacement vehicle becomes available.

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