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Fire service withdraws pump vehicles after failure row

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 23, 2012

Rural response pump vehicles have now been withdrawn from service by Mid and West Fire and Rescue Service

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CONTROVERSIAL fire service vehicles have been withdrawn from service — just weeks after an incident in which one was said to have failed.

Mid and West Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed it has temporarily withdrawn some of its 17 Rural Response Pumps, which were the subject of a safety warning from Fire Brigades Union officers when they were first introduced earlier this year.

The service said the vehicles were intended to provide cover in rural areas. But the Fire Brigades Union claimed they had been used to replace standard engines at some stations, and issued a Safety Critical Notice when they were introduced, because they claimed the vehicles were not fit for purpose.

They claimed the RRPs carried enough water to be pumped for just under four minutes.

An investigation was launched following the failure of a water pump on an RRP responding to a house fire near Lampeter earlier this month. Since then, the water tank on an RRP based in Ammanford is said to have cracked, and a second RRP drafted in to replace it, from Carmarthen, also suffered a broken water tank.

An FBU spokesman said: "We issued the Safety Critical Notice over the RRPs because we were concerned they were not fit for purpose. But we have seen a failure of the equipment on these vehicles. If they respond to an incident, and they have enough water, and the equipment doesn't fail, and officers are able to prime it, they just might be able to cope. But our original concerns about these vehicles appear to be justified."

The RRPs, which are adapted Mercedes Sprinters vans, were said to have been rejected by another fire service because of the limitations on the equipment they could carry.

A MWWFRS spokesman said: "We can confirm that our rural response pumps at Brecon, Lampeter and Ammanford have been temporarily removed from operational service following a small number of issues which have arisen with the vehicles in recent weeks. Early indications suggest these issues are related to the design and build quality of the vehicles and the manufacturer is currently in the process of carrying out a full inspection.

"The vehicles have been removed as a precautionary measure. The vehicles will be returned to operational duty once the inspections and any required works have been completed.

"There is no impact on fire cover."

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  • Stork  |  November 23 2012, 4:41PM

    Thinktank Any Green Godesses hanging about ?

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  • GorsseinonJoe  |  November 23 2012, 1:24PM

    Let's hope that those employees who brought the safety issues into the public arena after failing to get management to listen now have any disciplinary judgement made against them reversed and those who are the real culprits, those who spent public money on dangerous vehicles, are dealt with through the disciplinary process for wasting public funds.

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  • brochadav  |  November 23 2012, 12:53PM

    How much money has been wasted here? Will the people responsible for this cock up be brought to book? Can the fire service now afford (after wasting so much on unsuitable vehicles) suitable replacement equipment that is up to spec? I just hope no lives are lost because of this monumental mistake.

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  • PhoenixPlease  |  November 23 2012, 12:35PM

    Mid West Wales Fire Bosses, you are having a laugh, it's November 23 rd, not April Fools Day. I just showed my Grandson , the Post photo, he said Postman Pat...even he can see it's not a fire engine. Check your delivery orders, to see the Royal Mail haven't got your fire engines. I just googled, Mid West Wales Fire Engines to show him and he said Fireman Sam. Stop conning us, we pay for a fire service and we want fire engines that the firemen who use them can trust in. When is this mismanagement going to end. 2 years ago, there were complaints about a fire engine that was too large for the job. Hope you haven't taken the backlash personally and now bought vans. Evening Post should publish Fire Engine photo alongside the van and let the public spot the difference, perhaps the bosses will join in too. The spokeswoman and other recent comments, talk about no effect on response, well I dont believe them. Why not buy 1or 2 and test them, not buy 17, not exactly common sense or Value For Money. Give the firemen who risk their lives the equipment they deserve not toys, it's like Bradley Wiggins entering Tour De France on a kiddies bike. P.S. Checked records, Mid and West Wales Fire was formed on April Fools Day, you couldn't write it.

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  • newsaffair  |  November 23 2012, 10:00AM

    Lets hope that we all hear that these units have been permantly withdrawn,in the meantime,the management should revert to engaging again with their workforce,in seeking to regain credibility,which to outsiders has been seriously affected.

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  • phantom  |  November 23 2012, 9:38AM

    I'm told that these vehicles are right on their safe weight limit!!! To the point that certain equipment had to be removed? It also seems that the weight issue has influenced the tank meaning that a plastic tank has been used instead of something more substantial? What happens if this gamble backfires and firefighters or the public are seriously hurt? Did the manufacturers not warn the management? I have to say, I have always thought of all emergency services equipment and vehicles as safe beyond reason and NOT prone to failure in any way!!!

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  • Thinktank  |  November 23 2012, 8:55AM

    It would be funny if it wasn't so serious!. Mid & West Fire managment are obviously trying to play down what is a life endangering use of equipment which they boasted in recent months was "a significant improvement for the fire service". If this is an improvement, then how bad must the fire service be?. A few indiviuals here would do well to remember that they are employed by the taxpayer as the guardians of the fire service and are ultimatley responsible for the safety of the communities they serve!. i imagine that in the fire service of all places, that there is no smoke without fire!, waht will it take before people are held to account. iread with interest about the current state of Northen Ireland Fire Service and wonder is the same fate looming for Mid & West? No longer can our fire service be used as a tool for union bashing(regardless of which one it is), to score political points, or as a breeding ground for greed. As for the statement that this will not affect fire cover, I have one question? where do you soucre up to 17 fire engines at short notice

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