The public will see the new Fire Service marked Toyota Hilux 4×4 vehicles out on the roads of West Yorkshire, as they are utilised to respond to emergencies alongside, not instead of, the usual fire engines we are all used to seeing.
Area Manager Scott Donegan said: “We are really pleased to have the addition of these vehicles to our fleet as they will allow Watch Managers to have the freedom of movement across the areas in which they work. This also means Watch Managers won’t be tied up at smaller scale fires where their skills are not required, providing them more time to dedicate to other community safety initiatives and fire prevention work in their communities.
“Working in this way will mean that Watch Managers no longer have to attend emergencies which do not pose a risk to life or property.
“This will provide the Watch Managers with more time to undertake operational risk inspections of buildings which involves visits to different types of buildings within West Yorkshire, such as care homes, hotels, schools or hospitals, to ensure fire safety regulations are adhered to and precautions are in place to minimise the risk of fire.
“These types of visits will also ensure our crews are familiar with the buildings’ design and layout should we ever be called to a fire there. It also means the Watch Managers will have more time to implement initiatives which will help make our communities safer, based on the different risks they may face, be that road safety, water safety or fire safety.
“The new 4×4 vehicles have only been in operation for a couple of weeks and we have already seen the benefits of them being able to assist us in gaining access to incidents that are off the beaten track and to transport vital equipment in support of firefighting activities.”
In the event that a Watch Manager arrives at a property fire in the moments before the oncoming crew, their role will be to assess the firefighting requirements and start to put in place a plan to tackle the fire.
Scott added: “There’s lots of considerations and assessments we make in our approach to tackling a fire. If the Watch Manager is the first on scene they have ‘eyes on’ and can start relaying technical information back to the oncoming crew by radio, who will only be shortly behind. This means the crew are steps ahead in knowing what they are dealing with before they arrive and can take immediate action once boots are on the ground.”
The new vehicles will carry basic first aid and scene safety equipment. Each of the vehicles also has a tow bar which will allow them to deliver our specialist units to wherever they are required across West Yorkshire.
The new vehicles will benefit the Service and communities in many ways and enable the right people with the right skills to be exactly where they are needed, when they are needed.
The vehicles will be used by Watch Managers who will now attend emergency incidents separately from Firefighters who will continue to respond to emergencies in fire engines.
For any property fire, three fire engines and a Watch Manager in a Hilux will attend on a blue light response. However, for less serious fires, where there are no risks to life or property, such as rubbish fires, the crew will attend on a fire engine and deal with the fire leaving the Watch Manager free to deliver fire safety work elsewhere.
The Control Room staff are skilled in mobilising the appropriate response and have a satellite overview of all vehicles and fire engines at any time. This allows the service to get to emergencies as quickly as possible.
This new way of working is currently being phased in across the Service with all 32 vehicles being fully operational by April 2021.