West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service have introduced a radical new appliance to its fleet, based on the UK’s first 6x6 Mercedes Sprinter.
Developed by German specialist Oberaigner, the 7-tonne chassis combines a highly competitive payload with exceptional ‘go anywhere’ capability.
The vehicle has been commissioned, along with a 4x4 Sprinter, by West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. Supplied by local Dealer Rossetts Commercials, the sole UK agent for the 6x6 variant, both have purpose-designed bodies by WH Bence Coachworks, of Bristol.
They are equipped with ultra-high pressure water pumps, battery-powered hydraulic rescue gear and medical response equipment including defibrilators, as well as comprehensive communications systems.
Based in Midhurst, the Oberaigner vehicle can deliver a crew of up to five to any incident in any weather across the county. Its 1,200-litre tank will allow crews to fight off-road heath and forest fires with water or foam for 30 minutes before needing to refill.
It is also well equipped to cope when roads are compromised by severe weather, such as heavy snow. The 6x6 also has a snorkel for enhanced capability in deep water. The 1.8-tonnes of spare capacity allows mission-specific loads to be transported to incidents, enabled by a rear-mounted hoist.
The 5-tonne 4x4 Sprinter will operate from Storrington. Fitted with a 400-litre tank, it has been specified to carry Environment Agency spill kits and swift water rescue equipment. As this vehicle may be the first to reach the scene of an accident on the A24 trunk road, the rear also has high-visibility markings to maximise operator safety.
Kieran Amos, acting assistant chief fire officer, said: “We wanted to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach and have more flexibility in our off-road fleet. These new 6x6 and 4x4 vehicles are not intended to be like-for-like replacements but represent a new concept for us in terms of equipment carried and operational capacity. They give us options for future mobilising which can be tailored to the specific demands of each incident.
“Most importantly, our vehicles have to meet the needs of the firefighters who will be using them. We believe the Sprinters represent a significant improvement for our fleet and will enhance the response we can provide to communities in times of need.”