Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Firefighters in South Yorkshire refuse to use equipment

Firefighters in South Yorkshire are refusing to use equipment on a fleet of new fire engines because of "continuing safety issues".

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it would not use the rescue platform on four vehicles and is calling for a full investigation.

Sarah Eratt, who chairs the county's FBU, said crews had genuine safety concerns and feared lives were at risk.

South Yorkshire fire service said it had noted the concerns raised.

According to the union, the four combined aerial rescue pumps (CARP) have had frequent mechanical problems.

This includes the cherry picker platform on the vehicles becoming jammed. Staff felt they were unreliable, the union said.

'Grave danger'

Ms Eratt said: "There are three other vehicles we can use for high-reach rescues.

"But fire crews have been warned if these are used the fire service will remove a standard fire engine from use. This is a reckless approach.

"Fire crews have genuine health and safety concerns in using these appliances and fear that the problems experienced could put the crews, and members of the public, in grave danger."

South Yorkshire fire service said in a statement: "We are totally committed to our CARP appliances, which provide an improved service to the South Yorkshire public whilst saving over £1m per year.

"They are a standard rescue pump on a Mercedes chassis but, instead of having a ladder on top, they have an aerial platform to provide additional response capabilities.

"We have noted the FBU's concerns and all reported problems with the vehicles have been fully investigated. Our health and safety section has passed them as fit for purpose."

The service said many of the problems were minor mechanical issues "to be expected of any new concept vehicle".

The CARPs were designed to both fight fires and act as an aerial rescue platform, and to reduce staffing levels.

The fire service bought four trucks in 2006 at a cost of £2m, but they required modification because they were too heavy to use legally on roads.

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