Sheppey fire station’s new addition to the fleet arrived on station yesterday, (26 July) and within a couple of hours went into action, responding to its first fire call – a field fire in Scrapsgate Road, Minster on Sea, Sheerness.
The 999 call was received at 8.10pm and firefighters were quickly on the scene with their new ‘slimline’ fire engine. Flex packs, beaters and a hose reel were used to fight the fire in woodland and deep undergrowth. An area measuring about half the size of a football pitch was destroyed by the blaze.
The new fire engine, one of 29 being rolled out around the county, weighs in at 12 tonnes, six tonnes less than its predecessor but is still packed with a range of specialist equipment and the latest technology, to enable fire crews to continue providing an excellent service to the people of Kent and Medway.
As well as being lighter, narrower and more manoeuvrable, the new fire engines are more fuel efficient, so better for the environment but carry the same amount of water as the more traditional sized engines. The smaller engines will stay in service for at least 15 years and are also £50,000 cheaper than existing models, which had reached the end of their life.
Sheppey Watch Manager, Andy Bridger-Smart, explained some of the advantages of the new fire engine: "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 more effectively.
"It also has the added benefit of the latest firefighting technology - fog spike – which is used to punch holes into a structure to deliver water inside of compartments, creating a super-fine misting effect, like a sprinkler that can dramatically reduce the temperature and spread of a fire.”
Firefighters are receiving training over the coming months at those fire stations due to receive the new engines.
Andy added: "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 all of those emergencies benefiting not only the firefighters but the community as well. It gives us an even greater range of specialist equipment to enable us to help people when they need it the most."
The new fire engines are 2.36m wide, 3m high and 7m long. Training is being rolled out to those stations due to receive them over the coming months.
Features incorporated into the new smaller fire engines include:
Thermal imaging camera - is like a set of eyes that can see through black smoke straight to the heart of the fire or to locate the casualty. Fire crews scan the building with the camera before going inside to locate the seat of the seat of the fire (where the fire is hottest). They can dramatically speed up the search for someone missing in a fire. A fingertip search in zero visibility can take seconds with the camera guiding crews. It can also be used to locate hotspots to prevent a fire spreading to neighbouring properties or other parts of the building
Fog spike – the spike punches holes through walls or roof tiles to allow a fine water mist to be sprayed from the outside, like a sprinkler system, which can suppress heat and dramatically reduce the temperature and spread of a fire before firefighters enter. They can be used within shared roof voids to create a fire break and stop fires spreading laterally, so property can be preserved more effectively. Almost all the water evaporates so water damage is significantly reduced and firefighting time can be cut dramatically. It also reduces the risk of backdraughts and flashovers making it safer for firefighters
Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) – is a foam that uses less water than traditional firefighting methods so is more environmentally sensitive but provides rapid fire knockdown. It can be an advantage in rural areas where the water supplies may be limited or some distance from the location of the fire. It can also be sprayed on buildings and cars to form a protective layer and prevent a fire spreading onto neighbouring properties
Defibrillators/first aid - to help casualties at incidents and to respond to incidents as part of our co-responding to medical emergencies
Light portable pump and a submersible pump - these smaller, transportable pumps can be used to provide firefighting water in areas where the fire engine cannot get. They can also be used to pump water away from a property during flooding
Larger capacity hose – these fire engines have larger hose reels which are more effective at extinguishing firesIntelligent pump control system – enables the fire engine’s water pump to function electronically, freeing up firefighters for other duties at an incident