A new rapid response Detection, Identification and Monitoring (DIM) vehicle - capable of tackling terror attacks and other major emergencies, has been introduced to London's streets, reinforcing the capital's position as one of the best protected cities in the world.

The new vehicle will be on-call in strategic locations 24-hours a day, ready to respond to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incidents. It contains an array of testing equipment ranging from devices similar to those used to detect chemical vapours in German U-boats during the Second World War, to brand new state-of-the-art kit designed for twenty-first century threats.

Its highly trained crew specialise in detecting and identifying any unknown and potentially dangerous substances including solids, liquids, gels, pastes, gasses, vapours and radioactive material. LFB 

Unlike London's two existing rapid response teams, which are part of the national resilience fleet of 18 that can be called to anywhere in the UK, the new vehicle is funded entirely by London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority in order to meet specific demand in the capital.

"This is about providing vital extra emergency cover for a complex major city," said London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson. "Now, if London is hosting a major event that needs additional protection, we can provide that protection without taking resources away from other areas of the city.

"The world has changed and we must anticipate all types of emergency, including terrorism. Having these specialist capabilities is about allowing Londoners to get on with their lives, knowing that behind the scenes there is no complacency and we are prepared."

London's rapid response CBRN capability:

  • Three rapid response vehicles. The new London Fire Brigade appliance will allow two vehicles to be continuously used and available, whilst the third can be used to provide cover to specific events or for training, without impacting on cover for the rest of the city
  • Vehicles are crewed by up to four trained CBRN specialists
  • Vans contain protective equipment like gas tight suits and breathing apparatus, alongside touch screen computers and a suite of equipment used to detect and identify unknown substances.