Firefighters in tower crash

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A TRAINING tower at a Sheffield fire station is out of action after firefighters crashed an aerial ladder platform into it.

The collision happened at Darnall fire station and damaged around 10 layers of bricks.

Firefighters have been banned from using the tower and training on the yard below until the full extent of the structural damage is known.

The appliance involved in the collision was an aerial ladder platform which was taken out of service by fire chiefs when they bought four combined aerial rescue pumps.

The appliances combine traditional fire engines with aerial ladder platforms to tackle fires from a height, reducing the need for two vehicles to be sent to incidents.

But crews have started using the older appliances again after refusing to use the CARPs to tackle fires from above.

They are concerned at the safety of the cages firefighters are sent into the air in, claiming there have been a number of incidents where staff have been trapped.

The Fire Brigades Union has notified the Health and Safety Executive of its members’ concerns and members are refusing to use the CARP cages until a full independent investigation is carried out into their safety.

John Gilliver, secretary of the South Yorkshire branch of the FBU, said: “These appliances were mothballed and not maintained following the delivery of the CARPs.

“There was nothing wrong with them before management took them out of service and with the way the CARPs have turned out they were actually more reliable.

“Firefighters are not refusing to use CARPS full stop, just the cage element. If they were put up in one above a fire and the mechanics failed, they would be fried.”

A South Yorkshire Fire Service spokesman said: “All accidents are unfortunate. However, we would reassure the public this incident will have no effect on our emergency response because our CARPs are providing South Yorkshire with an improved aerial response, while saving more than £1 million per year.”

The four CARPs in South Yorkshire have proved controversial since bosses bought them for £2 million but then found that they were too top heavy for UK roads.

Another £700,000 was spent on modifications before they could be used.