Mercedes-Benz have delivered a 5.0-tonne Sprinter 519 CDI to Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service, as their new Incident Support Unit.
The Long-bodied, V6-engined van was converted for command and control operations by West Midlands specialist Macneillie, and is fitted with cutting-edge communications technology that can be used by up to five personnel.
Chief fire officer Alex Bennett said: “This custom-built vehicle will allow us to deliver our services in a more co-ordinated and professional manner and mean we are better able to protect our communities across the county at a time of increased risk from floods and other natural events. The Incident Support Unit represents a significant financial investment but given that we expect to run it for at least 10 years, I have no doubt that it will prove to be money very well spent.”
He continued: “Past experience has given us complete confidence in the Mercedes-Benz 4x4 chassis, which means we can operate anywhere across a county that includes some very challenging terrain.”
Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service also operates four other all-wheel drive Mercedes-Benz vans – three are assigned to its Swift Water Rescue teams and carry inflatable boats, while the fourth is a Specialist Rescue Unit and equipped with heavy-duty cutting gear, including shears and saws, as well as stabilisation tools.
A genuine, factory-built option, rather than an aftermarket conversion, the Sprinter 4x4 sits higher than its standard counterpart. It employs rear-wheel drive for road use, but all-wheel drive can be selected when venturing off road. Conventional 4x4 vehicles rely on mechanically operated differential locks to prevent spinning wheels and guarantee equal speed on all four wheels. The Sprinter 4x4, by contrast, uses a development of the Mercedes-Benz 4-ETS (Electronic Traction System), which is integrated with the Adaptive ESP® anti-skid technology to provide unrivalled traction management.
Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service technical officer Steve Kennedy said: “We considered a few chassis options but the 4x4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ticked all the boxes in terms of its size, off-road capability, and proven reliability and durability.
“The communications systems on this vehicle allow us to pass messages and stream live, real time data back to HQ without having to rely on the public network. We can also conduct video conferences, for example, which will assist in managing incidents efficiently and safely, and undertake comprehensive incident debriefs based on the passage of information and audits of all decisions made, which can only improve future performance.”