More woe for specialist fire service vehicle
A FIRE service vehicle which has been plagued with problems since it was bought has been out of action once more, forcing fire chiefs to arrange contingency cover.
Problems with the 23-tonne Aerial Rescue Pump (ARP), based in Sketty, have meant it has been off the road for the past few days, although it was due to be brought back into action last night.
The vehicle has a high-reaching ladder to access buildings up to eight storeys tall, and the nearest vehicles with similar capabilities are based as far away as Haverfordwest and Bridgend.
The ARP was bought by the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MWWFRS) in 2007 at a cost of around £450,000 but has been plagued by problems.
A MWWFRS spokesman said: "The ARP has been off the run, but contingency arrangements were in place for strategic fire cover."
The ARP did not go into full service for more than a year after it was bought because of "technical difficulties".
It was sent back to manufacturers in Finland for further repairs, but it developed another fault after it was repaired.
Because the vehicle had been out of action for so long, concerned firefighters requested retraining so they could safely use the vehicle.
Clydach councillor and former firefighter Gordon Walker claimed: "The brigade were warned not to buy this vehicle."
The development with the ARP comes less than a week after Mid and West Fire and Rescue Service admitted it had withdrawn controversial fire service vehicles following an incident in which one was said to have failed.
Senior officers confirmed it had temporarily withdrawn some of its 17 Rural Response Pumps, which were the subject of a safety warning from Fire Brigades Union officers when they were first introduced earlier this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 FBU 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.
The RRPs, which are adapted Mercedes Sprinter vans, were rejected by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service as unsuitable.
The MWWFRS declined to comment on whether they had consulted with other fire services before buying the vehicles.