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Official handover of new fire appliances 3 July 2008

FOUR new appliances were officially handed over to the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service during a ceremony in Douglas on Wednesday.

The vehicles will serve the Castletown, Douglas, Peel and Ramsey communities and keys were passed to the respective station officers by Minister for Home Affairs Martyn Quayle MHK. The overall project represents an investment of £700,000 and the culmination of three years of research, planning, construction and training. The various stages of the build have seen the four appliances shipped between Belgium, Holland and Scotland to take advantage of expert craftsmanship before arriving in the Isle of Man for the final commissioning process.

While increased attention is focussed on prevention and protection measures, the Fire Service’s ability to respond to emergency situations remains critical and Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper was praised for his commitment and enthusiasm to the vehicle development programme. The new appliances have been designed to serve their local communities for the next 15 years and feature the very latest firefighting technology.

CFO Draper explained to an audience of distinguished guests that fire vehicles do not roll off a production line, but are hand-built to unique specifications.

He said:

‘There is no catalogue of what’s available and there is certainly no showroom from which you can simply select from a range of vehicles on display. Fire appliance design, specification and procurement is an extremely demanding and challenging environment. Everything has to be extensively researched, evaluated and specified. Virtually every component, light fitting, speaker outlet, locker layout and pump configuration has been the culmination of a lot of thought, consideration and at times considerable discussion and debate. I am personally delighted at the time, effort and energy that have been put into this project.’

Island firefighters and training officers have been heavily involved in the vehicle development programme from the outset. The huge range of incidents tackled by the Fire and Rescue Service, and type of equipment required, were taken into account when determining the design and construction. In addition to carrying conventional firefighting apparatus, the appliances have been equipped to deal with emerging challenges such as climate change.

Consequently, firefighters have at their disposal water pumps, ladders, breathing apparatus, thermal imaging cameras, vehicle stabilisation and cutting equipment, lifejackets, throw lines and environmental packs to cope with chemical spillages.

CFO Draper said:

‘As a modern Fire and Rescue Service we are charged with providing a cost-effective, efficient and professional service to the community. As a total build cost of approximately £175,000 per unit we must not lose sight of the long-term, 15-year investment that each vehicle represents.’

He thanked the Government, in particular the Department of Home Affairs and Treasury, for its commitment to the project and paid tribute to his colleagues for their valuable input. The contractors were also praised for delivering a high quality service and Richard Osbourne of Volvo UK, David Greenwood of Thomas Hardy Commercial Vehicles and Mike Madsen of Emergency One were invited on stage to receive framed photographs of the new vehicles.

CFO Draper then handed over to The IoM Fire Service’s transport and fleet manager Alan Gawne who explained the various stages of the build process. Guests were told that fire vehicles start out in a basic truck configuration before Volvo carries out the crew cab conversions in Belgium. Development then moves to Holland where workers cut out the back of the cab, alter the roof and install the wiring.

The vehicles are shipped to Scotland for the final phase of hand-finishing which includes the installation of fixtures and fittings. Handing over the keys to the new appliances to station officers Tim Clegg (Castletown), Mark Christian (Douglas), Barry Gelling (Peel) and Nigel Fairclough (Ramsey), Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle MHK added his congratulations to everybody who had contributed to the project.

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