New specialist fire engine set for unveiling

The 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 will be officially launched at Blenheim Palace in the presence of the Duke of Marlborough; council Deputy Leader Rodney Rose and Chief Fire Officer David Etheridge OBE on Thursday January 15 at 12.30pm.

Some of the Duke's staff are on-call firefighters and he allows them to conduct Fire and Rescue Service duties when they are required.

Incidents the new truck - which will be available for deployment soon - 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.

Some of the equipment used on the old specialist vehicle will be reused to help keep costs down. The old vehicle will be sold at auction. Money is put aside in each year's budget over a ten-year period to purchase a such new Rescue Tender.

Wide-ranging role

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."

Continuation of excellent work

Councillor Rose, 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.

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