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Specialist fire and rescue service appliance from Whale Tankers

Renowned for its innovative approach to designing and developing bespoke vehicle concepts, Solihull-based Whale Tankers has played a major role in delivering a specialist fire and rescue service appliance, believed to be the first of its kind in this country.

Specified by Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service, the emergency appliance has been designed to operate as a rapid response, high volume, rigid mounted water carrier. Developed with assistance from the Fire Vehicles and Emergency Response Equipment (FVERE) workstream team of Firebuy Limited – the National Procurement body of English Fire and Rescue Services – the tanker unit has a 13,000 litre carrying capacity; seven times the volume of a standard front line fire appliance.

Stationed at Loughborough, the appliance features a dual compartment cylindrical tank manufactured from grade 304 stainless steel – one to carry 12,000 litres of water, the other 1,000 litres of foam concentrates. It is being deployed to support pumping appliances by transporting high volumes of water to incidents where access to hydrants and other water sources is restricted, such as remote rural areas and motorway incidents. Mounted onto a Scania P340, 26-tonne GVW, three axle rigid rear steer chassis with P day cab supplied by Keltruck Limited, the appliance has been designed to deliver a number of operating efficiencies.

With engine power emanating from Scania’s 12-litre 340bhp engine, Whale Tankers has equipped the vehicle with proven and powerful vacuum/pressure system and positive displacement pump technologies. As a result, the water carrier can offload 12,000 litres of water into two portable dams – housed within inbuilt body mounted storage units on the vehicle itself – to create a ready water supply in a matter of minutes.

With pumping appliances free to use this water source, the water carrier can leave the incident scene to take on onboard additional supplies from open water or from hydrants. In order to do so, and for increased versatility, the appliance can utilise three methodologies: mains hydrant refill, or deploy the vacuum or pump, to deliver refill times varying from seven to 18 minutes. This is three times quicker than can be achieved by Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Services’ current water carrier.

For ease of loading water from traditional hydrants, Whale has designed and manufactured the vehicle to house identical nearside and offside hose hydrant connections. The same is also applicable to two side mounted rotating reels that house 25 metres of 4" suction hose, thereby enabling loading to take place from either side of the vehicle. For increased speed of operation, the suction hose reel has both a freewheel unwinding and hydraulic rewind mode. Equally efficient at refilling is Whale’s Mistral 4 series exhauster vacuum pump.

Compliant with BSEN1486 regarding the safety and performance of fire fighting and rescue equipment, the fire service water carrier can also be deployed to feed pumping appliances equipped with the latest Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFS), by connecting them to the vehicle’s 1,000 litre foam concentrate tank.

Commenting on the decision to work in conjunction with Whale Tankers, Dave Glenis, Head of Operational Resources at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Services said: "Not only has Whale Tankers got a great reputation within the UK and overseas for the reliability and efficiency of the vehicles it builds, the technology that we have deployed on this latest special emergency appliance is already proven across many industry sectors. In essence, Whale has given us a vehicle that enables us to draw water from a number of sources and across greater distances and heights than we ever thought was possible. We are therefore confident that it will be instrumental in helping increase the speed and efficiency with which we can respond to emergency incidents, and save lives in the process."

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