As technology evolves, risk changes, incident profiles and demand shift, and budgets are ever decreasing, UK Fire and Rescue Services have become more focused in considering their long-term investment of capital and look far beyond simple like-for-like replacement of equipment.
Whilst this is challenging for Services it has also resulted in fire-appliance and equipment suppliers developing their products in order to provide the best affordable design, build quality and products for what has become an equally challenging market.
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) is no stranger to innovation. With just one border and the majority of its remaining boundary surrounded by coastline it has to operate self-sufficiently, which requires the provision of its own capability for foreseeable risk.
A long success in this area has seen the Service operate small four-wheel-drive pumping appliances since the fifties. At that time the Service was leading the way with the long-forgotten Austin Champ, the Austin Gypsy and Land Rovers, now replaced by the Toyota Hi-Lux – versatile vehicles serving beyond a firefighting role to provide Co-Responding, transport for other agencies in inclement weather, crew transport where personnel rather than a fully equipped major pumping appliance is needed and access to the cliffs and mines in remote areas of the county for technical rescues of both people and animals.
In addition, Cornwall has designed and operated specialist pumping appliances able to navigate the narrow streets in historic towns and villages which are beyond access by traditional, full-sized vehicles.
Planning for the future
With an ageing fleet, access demands beyond the specification of the most common appliances and a whole new marketplace of vehicles and fire-and-rescue equipment CFRS identified opportunities to equip itself for its future demands and risk profiles. At the strategic level the task was to secure the capital funding with a strong business case whilst at the tactical level there was the need for end-user engagement.
This work resulted in Cornwall Council supporting the business case for a 15-year capital replacement programme enabling the Service to plan for and deliver a modernised fleet, securing the benefits associated with modern technology including reliability and environmental benefits.
The business case produced became the blueprint for the next stages of procurement. It was recognised that some information gathered as part of this planning stage would change and would need to evolve over the extended procurement cycle to ensure future technology and advances would be available. CFRS is determined that its fleet and equipment will reflect the best affordable features as it moves forward.
Using the business case principles, the Services Operational Asset Team created a forum to bring key stakeholders together for an overarching programme board, which included representatives from the fleet team, data analysis, finance, training and, of course, operations. With a programme agreed this team has moved forward to deal with more tactical issues an early example being the production of user specifications for replacement appliances.
Equipped with support and data obtained through both qualitative and quantitative data, the programme team was able to present practical evidence of the current and likely future demands in any particular response area and the frequency of use for particular items of equipment. With this information, representatives from the programme team worked with operational personnel to determine what was needed in future appliances.
Determining the specification
The first project team established worked to specify appliances the Service has named Light Rescue Pumps (LRP’s). These will be located in areas where risk profiling has identified the need for a lighter and more agile appliance, whilst not compromising its ability to deal with the wide range of incidents in a geographical area.
An inclusive project group including the Firefighters who would be using the LRP’s was established. This group produced the user specification which then went through the formal tender process. The result of this process was the reward of the contract to Rosenbauer UK for the supply of six LRP’s over the next four years.
Since the contract award, Firefighters from the Service have had the opportunity to visit and speak to colleagues in Austria who have operated similar appliances for many years. In addition, these staff have been supported to engage with Rosenbauer to ensure the finished vehicles match their expectations and needs.
Personnel from Penzance, Bodmin, Bude Community Fire Stations and Workshops, were selected to visit the Rosenbauer Assembly Factories, along with visits to two volunteer fire stations in Austria.
Firefighter Pete Jefford of Green Watch, Bodmin Community Fire Station said:
“The purpose of the visit was to experience first hand the engineering design and innovation used to produce the new light rescue pump appliances which have been procured by the Service in order to provide an innovative vehicle that will be flexible and address access problems in small villages, towns and the rural nature of Cornwall. It provided personnel with the opportunity to engage with the Austrian firefighters and exchange ideas on firefighting methods and techniques with this type of appliance.
“It was apparent that a great deal of innovation and development had been put into to the design so that all available space had been utilised, not only for stowage but crew comfort also and it was this element that set them aside. The design and innovation was very impressive and I believe the appliances we are getting have an excellent build quality.”
Chief Fire Officer, Paul Walker of CFRCSS said: “I am fortunate to have a Service in which staff are engaged in and contribute to our future capability. The objective attitude and willingness of Firefighters has contributed to a process which ensures end-user engagement is key to the delivery of change and the introduction of new equipment.”
“Our operational staff will use these vehicles on a daily basis. It was critical that they were involved from the very beginning in the design and inventory of the new appliances. Crew comfort and safety with the ability to deploy using safe systems of work have been the focus throughout this project. Our risk profile and rural road network often challenge the more traditional 12.5-tonne appliances so these smaller, more versatile appliances, which can retain a crew of five, are an excellent addition to our fleet.”
Features of the Rosenbauer Lightweight Rescue Pump
The six new appliances will continue to provide a crew-cab configuration to seat a crew of five. They will carry the latest in Weber E-Force battery-powered crash-rescue equipment and a selection of equipment specified through operational risk and the requirements of the end users.
Appliance detail and specification:
- Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 519 Bluetec, medium wheelbase of 3665mm, offered with a gross weight uprated to 5,300kg.
- Complete with a lightweight structure incorporating seating for a crew of five.
- Rosenbauer H5 high-pressure pump producing up to 500 litres per minute at 40bar.
- 500-litre water tank
- Stowage for two breathing apparatus sets and ancillary equipment.
This approach is being applied to the review of the operational fleet of frontline and specialist support vehicles and equipment. A similar process resulted in the success of Rosenbauer providing 15 12-tonne compact line-appliances on a MAN chassis, which will be delivered over the next three years.
For more information, go to http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/community-and-living/cornwall-fire-and-rescue-service-homepage/