£1million fire engines too heavy to drive on roads

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By Rory Reynolds

TWO state-of-the-art fire engines costing nearly £1million have been stuck in a garage for up to 18 months – because they are too heavy to drive.

The Combined Aerial Rescue Pumps – which act as both fire pump and rescue ladder – were bought by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue in an attempt to cut costs, according to union bosses.

However the £450,000 vehicles have been plagued by faults, needing to be repaired before being deployed.

Even after they were fixed, brigade bosses realised the Carps, as they are known, were too heavy to drive when fully-loaded.

The Fire Brigades Union has branded the costly engines “not fit for purpose”, adding that their purpose is to save money and not increase crew safety.

The two vehicles are now sitting unused in a garage in Newbridge, just outside Edinburgh.

Difficulties

Brian Banks, chairman of the Lothian and Borders branch of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “They’ve been with the brigade for around two years, but they’ve not been used.

“I think people are frustrated by the length of time and the difficulties these appliances are showing.

“They are obviously problems that have been highlighted – the firefighters are concerned about them going on the road.

“There is an issue with the weight when they’re fully laden.

“Ultimately, if an appliance has been bought and is not meeting requirements, then questions need to be asked.”

Roddy Robertson at the Fire Brigade Union’s executive council, added: “Our view of this vehicle is they are not fit for purpose.

Safety

“They are designed to save money and cut jobs, not to improve the safety for firefighters.”

The resources for the two engines came from special funding from the Scottish Government.

The Carps are designed to take over from the separate hose and ladder vehicles currently in use.

However there have already been complaints by firefighters in other parts of the UK, and an inquiry is being carried out in Humberside into the decision to buy the vehicles in the first place.

Councillor Michael Bridgman, convenor of the Lothian and Borders Fire Board, said: “There were major problems originally when they were bought a couple of years ago.

Repair

“There are things that have to be ironed out.

“They are being tested at the moment and they should be on the road once that is done.”

The engines were sent back to the manufacturers for repair and returned to the Edinburgh fire service last March, but have not been used since.

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said that the service has had one of the appliances for 18 months and the other for six months.

She said: “The appliances were due to go on the road this week and the final test when fully loaded showed that they were overweighed.

“We’re taking measures to rectify that at the moment.

“These are new appliances and not of a type we have used before and we are working to resolve this issue.”

“It is of paramount importance that everything is correct with the vehicles and that’s why there has been this delay.”

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