The first of Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s 29 new smaller fire engines started responding to 999 emergency calls in Sevenoaks last week; the second appliance arrived in Dymchurch last Friday.
Weighing in at 12 tonnes – 6 tonnes lighter than KFRS’s other fire appliances - it is packed with specialist equipment to enable Kent’s firefighters to respond to a variety of fire and rescue incidents across the county and complies with the latest Euro 6 vehicle emission standards.
Chris Colgan, KFRS’s Assistant Director Response & Training, explained why Kent has opted for the new, slimline engines. He said: "A number of our fire engines were reaching the end of their life. Traditionally, we’ve employed a ‘one size fits all’ model with the 18 tonne fire engines used for every type of incident, but technology and firefighting tactics have moved on.
"We are continually looking at how we tackle fires and other incidents to make sure we take advantage of new technology. Following an in-depth review into the types of incidents we go to, the equipment used at them and information from the scene, KFRS found it was using 40 per cent of the equipment 80 per cent of the time and that there was an opportunity to carry this equipment on a smaller fire engine to complement the existing larger vehicles without compromising any capability."
As well as being lighter, narrower and more manoeuvrable, the new appliances are more fuel efficient so better for the environment. They are also £50,000 cheaper than existing models and will remain in service for at least 15 years.
Chairman of Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority Nick Chard said: "An important part of our plans to modernise the service was to take advantage of new technology and make sure that firefighters had the right equipment to do the job. The new engines and the equipment they carry are a good example of this and the new kit has already proved its worth at many incidents, including some major fires. This means we are better able to continue to provide an efficient and effective service for our local communities, keeping the public and our firefighters as safe as possible."