CONTROVERSIAL fire service vehicles have been withdrawn from service — just weeks after an incident in which one was said to have failed.
Mid and West Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed it has temporarily withdrawn some of its 17 Rural Response Pumps, which were the subject of a safety warning from Fire Brigades Union officers when they were first introduced earlier this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."