Brighton may get smaller fire engines after delayed rescue

Smaller fire engines could be used in Brighton and Hove to help crews get to fires more quickly in areas choked by parked cars.

It follows a fire last week in which the rescue of a woman in her 50s was delayed because parked cars obstructed a full-sized fire engine.

The woman was seriously injured in the blaze in Park Crescent on Wednesday.

East Sussex chief fire officer Des Prichard said smaller vehicles were being considered for Brighton.

"We are looking at the particular needs in the city of Brighton and Hove and also Hastings, which has some small roads," he said.

Reverse out

The woman was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in a "critical but stable" condition at 23:20 GMT after the fire in her bedroom.

Richard Chamberlain, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service watch leader, said parked cars had delayed her rescue.

"We had cars parked on both sides of the road.

"Although not illegally parked, they did cause an obstruction which caused us to have to reverse out of the road and seek a different route to the incident.

"People leave enough space for a private vehicle to get through and they think that's fine but they don't think about wider vehicles such as ambulances and fire appliances."

Four wheel drive

Mr Prichard said the issue with smaller fire vehicles was the amount of equipment they could carry.

"Fire engines carry water so if you reduce the weight of the vehicle and the carrying capacity, you reduce the capacity for water," he said.

He said the service used smaller some smaller four wheel drive vehicles in rural areas and was testing a smaller "concept" vehicle.

"We are continuing to look at this but there are no plans to bring one in for next year," said Mr Prichard.

"I would ask that the local public consider where they park their vehicles, not just for fire vehicles but for ambulances and refuse vehicles."

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