Highly specialised Sprinters for Heathrow Fire & Rescue
Replacements for a single 18-tonne domestic appliance, the new vehicles offer a major increase in operational flexibility. Being smaller and more agile, they are better able to get through traffic on the roads in and around the UK’s busiest airport to deal with anything from a domestic blaze, to a car crash, or a serious medical call.
It is for these, more general incidents that the new Sprinters were commissioned.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Summerhill, who led the project, said: “Unlike most firefighters we are employed by a business, not a public body, so while saving lives and serving the public will always be our number one priority, we’re also particularly conscious of the need to prove value for money, and keep the airport moving, particularly in these challenging times.
“The bulk of our work entails responding to alarms and dealing with small fires in domestic and commercial properties, road accidents and medical incidents such as cardiac arrests – we’ve all been trained to provide emergency care and can often do so before an ambulance reaches the scene.
“These fantastic vehicles allow us to be more agile and dynamic in the way we do so. We can cover two incidents at the same time, and if it’s more serious and we need to increase our resilience we can send a crew of four rather than just the usual two, or, indeed, direct both vehicles to attend.”
Mr Summerhill continued: “Weight is always an issue with firefighting appliances but given their compact size our new domestic response units are exceptionally well equipped. This means that when we’re dealing with fires, for example, they give us a really good ‘first strike’ attack capability – if we don’t put it out completely, we can at least hold it back until the local authority fire teams arrive.”
He added: “We took a lot of advice before confirming our order. We need absolute reliability from our kit, and Rosenbauer’s recommendation of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as a base chassis was borne out by the other fire services and fleet managers we spoke to.
“These vehicles are easy to drive and exceptionally manoeuvrable, which is a huge advantage on such a busy airport. They’re also really well thought out in terms of their design. We began working on this project four years ago but the time and effort we’ve committed has been well worthwhile, because we couldn’t be happier with our new vehicles.”
Commenting on the service provided by the Dealer’s Off-Road & Blue Light Sales Specialist Martin Gearing, he said: “Martin’s a great guy to work with. He’s very enthusiastic and highly responsive, so that if ever I need a quote, or some information, I know I can rely on him to get back to me very quickly.”