Two firefighters left stranded in air during Neath Valley demo
A CONTROVERSIAL fire engine whose continued use has been defended by fire chiefs, left two firefighters stranded in the air — while carrying out a rescue demo at a Neath Valley fire station.
The fire fighters were taking part in a demonstration high- rise rescue while on the combined aerial rescue pump at Glynneath Fire Station last weekend. But the pair became stranded in their cage at the end of the vehicle's extension for around 15 minutes.
Fire chiefs say the cause was down to an operational rather than a technical error — and that the vehicle itself did not malfunction.
A spokeswoman for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue said: "A defect was reported and a mechanic arrived within 15 minutes, when it was apparent that the appliance was working normally.
"Checks were completed by the mechanic and no fault was found. Operator error is suspected as being the cause of the false alarm".
Earlier this month, fire chiefs said they were now satisfied with the performance of the rescue vehicle even though another UK fire service revealed it was planning to withdraw its fleet.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service plans to phase out the use of four combined aerial rescue pumps after experiencing repeated mechanical problems, resulting in them being out of action more than 150 times during their first eight months of service.
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has two of the vehicles, one based in Haverfordwest, and the other in the station in Sketty. The service admits to experiencing some technical difficulties with the vehicles in the past, but fire chiefs said they were satisfied the problems have been resolved.
The Swansea-based vehicle was bought by the service in 2007, at a cost of around £450,000, despite concerns over its size from some firefighters who argued it was too big to manoeuvre in some narrow streets. It later emerged it did not go into full service for more than a year after it was bought because of "technical difficulties". It has subsequently been repeatedly taken off the run because of technical issues.
Clydach councillor Gordon Walker, a retired fire fighter with more than 30 years experience, said: "Even if it was an operational error that was responsible at Glynneath, rather than a technical errror, what if it had been a real incident?"