FIRE chiefs have unveiled a fleet of new appliances which cost £700,000 more than originally expected after checks found them to be too heavy for UK roads.
The state-of-the art engines, which also double as aerial ladder platforms to enable firefighters to tackle flames from a height, should have cost £2 million altogether.
But by the time the mistake with their weight was discovered their manufacturer had gone into administration and was unable to carry out the repairs.
Bosses then had to find an extra £700,000 for another firm – in Holland – to make the alterations needed.
Two of the new appliances are currently working from Barnsley and Doncaster fire stations. The other two are to be based at Sheffield Central and Rotherham fire stations once crews are trained up.
The appliances avoid the need for a fire engine and a separate aerial ladder platform to be sent to incidents and will save around £1.25 million a year by freeing up the need for 36 firefighter posts.
Temporary Assistant Chief Fire Officers Neil Hessell said the appliances mean firefighters will have everything they need to deal with an incident as soon as they arrive.
“We used to have to send two appliances but now this doubles up and provides everything all in one, saving vital time when we are dealing with incidents – which is important for firefighter and community safety,” he said.
“There are also efficiency savings too and should be seen as an asset. The significant savings will outweigh the cost that we have incurred so far.”
Fire chiefs have also unveiled a new command support unit from which major incidents are run.
It is fitted with satellite technology, computers and screens to give incident commanders a full picture of the scene and how firefighters and other emergency services are coping.
Body cameras have also been bought which firefighters will wear when they enter burning buildings to show bosses outside what they are dealing with.
The fire service has also bought new ‘breathing apparatus telemetry technology’, which enables bosses to monitor firefighters inside burning buildings to communicate with them and monitor the amount of oxygen they have left in their tanks to ensure they withdraw before their supplies run out.
Five new fire engines are to be delivered in June, but bosses stress they were all ordered a number of years ago before the government funding cuts were announced.