New specialist fire and rescue vehicles unveiled

The 12-tonne vehicle, known as a Rescue Tender, will be based at Kidlington Fire Station. It carries over 300 pieces of equipment and is crewed by firefighters who have acquired specialist skills through an in-depth and on-going training regime to respond to challenging rescue incidents.

Launch at Blenheim Palace

It, along with two new light response vehicles, was officially launched at Blenheim Palace on Thursday March 5.

Incidents the new Rescue Tender - which is now in active service - is designed to respond to involve animal rescues; structural collapse; complex road traffic collisions, aircraft crashes; railway incidents; water rescues and rescues from height and confined space.

On-board equipment includes:

  • The latest hydraulic road traffic collision rescue equipment
  • Airbags for heavy lifting
  • Chainsaws for use dealing with adverse weather condition incidents
  • Rope rescue tripods and stretchers for difficult access situations
  • Large animal slings and strops for recovering stricken horses and cattle
  • A roof-mounted boat that can be deployed swiftly to respond to flooding and water rescues
  • Dry suits and buoyancy aids

The truck, which cost £220,000, replaces a ten-year-old rescue tender, which has come to the end of its operational life, having covered nearly 200,000 miles and responded to around 4,000 emergency calls.

Thermal imaging cameras

The light response vehicles - known as 'Canters' - are fully equipped to deal with all regular incident types – such as house fires and road traffic collisions - and have special thermal imaging cameras on-board to assist firefighters to see through smoke. They will be operational from March.

Other equipment carried by the Canters includes:

  • Lithium Ion battery-powered road traffic collision cutting equipment
  • Positive pressure fans for smoke clearance
  • Casualty care equipment
  • Built-in pump with an on-board 1,000 litre water supply

Cost-effective approach

Some of the equipment used on the old specialist Rescue Tender will be reused to help keep costs down. The new light response vehicles were demonstration models and were purchased at a cut-price of £70,000 each. They will replace two other vehicles that have come to the end of their operational lives and will start their service stationed at Witney and Slade Park, Oxford.

Money is put aside in each year's budget over a ten-year period to purchase new vehicles. The old vehicles will be sold at auction.

Wide-ranging roles

Mr Etheridge said: "Some people may think that firefighters only put out fires, but in recent years the role has really developed and now my staff respond to a huge range of emergencies, including flooding and animal rescues.

"In order to be able to keep Oxfordshire's public as safe as possible we use a rescue tender vehicle, which is stocked with the tools to deal with a variety of situations that we may be presented with. Our old rescue tender has come to the end of its operational life and I am delighted that we have this new one available to help protect the public.

"Firefighters who crew the rescue tender vehicle attend specialist training courses and skills obtained are maintained through practical sessions carried out all over Oxfordshire on rivers and high-rise buildings to simulate the real-life scenarios they will be faced with.

"We also have two new state-of-the-art Canter vehicles which will be excellent additions to our fleet and will enable us to continue to provide a cost-effective and efficient emergency response for Oxfordshire's public."

Continuation of excellent work

Councillor Rodney Rose, the Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, who also has Cabinet responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is a high-performing and hugely respected organisation which works extremely hard to keep the county's residents as safe as is possible.

"These new vehicles will help them continue their excellent work and I am sure the highly-trained crews are looking forward to using them."