No new fire engines for four years

SUFFOLK has had no new fire engines in around four years, it emerged today.Batches of new vehicles, which have a life span of between 12 and 15 years, are routinely brought in to replace the oldest models in the countywide fleet but The Evening Star has learned that this has not happened since 2004.

Neil Puffett

SUFFOLK has had no new fire engines in around four years, it emerged today.

Batches of new vehicles, which have a life span of between 12 and 15 years, are routinely brought in to replace the oldest models in the countywide fleet but The Evening Star has learned that this has not happened since 2004.

Steve Collins, secretary of the Suffolk Fire Brigade's Union, said his organisation had been told that Suffolk County Council has a number of vehicles on order.

Mr Collins said a handful of new engines are usually brought in every two or three years but he understood a change in the procurement process had lead to a lengthier wait on this occasion.

He said: “They should be brought in over the next year or so and then hopefully we can get rid of some of the older appliances out there.

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“A few of them are probably at the end of their life but they are all still serviced regularly.

“We have been closely involved with management in regards to the new appliances.

“We want the best equipment and vehicles out there for firefighters in Suffolk to be using as they have better safety standards.”

Suffolk's fleet of fire engines numbers 54.

A spokeswoman for the council said eight new engines were due to hit the county's roads in August - three of which are enhanced rescue vehicles going to Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft, with the other five going to where they are most needed around the county.

She said: “The current lifespan for a fire engine in Suffolk is 15 years and for a specialist appliance, such as a turntable ladder, it is 20.

“Since completing our fleet strategy, and in line with advancements in firefighting vehicles, we are looking to reduce this to 12 years for a pumping engine and 15 for a specialist appliance.

“We buy all our vehicles through national contracts which not only produces efficiency savings but also means that our engines are compatible and can work with those in other brigades, invaluable in large or cross border incidents.”

She added that despite no new engines hitting the roads over the past four years, a total of three new water rescue vehicles, 52 officer and fire safety cars, one engineering support van, one community fire safety exhibition vehicle, one water tanker and three emergency vehicles designed to respond to large scale emergencies, have been bought.

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