All-terrain vehicle to help tackle remote fires

All-terrainvehicle to help tackle remote fires

19 March 2008

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United Kingdom — Crews in East Lancashire will lead the way in tacklingremote fires with what is thought to be the UK’s first all-terrain fire engine.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has added the Softrack to its fleet in abid to give it greater flexibility when it comes to tackling incidents such asmoorland fires.

And the new equipment, which will be stationed at Darwen fire station, hasbeen welcomed by those who tackle blazes head-on.

Softrack is a caterpillar-tracked vehicle that can carry firefighters and theequipment they need to fight fires in off-road situations such as woods andmoorland.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has worked closely with the Devon-basedmanufacturer, Loglogic, to create the machine.

Fires on moorlands are a threat during dry spells in summer, but they oftenhappen much earlier in the year too, when winter grass and heather growthbecomes tinder-dry and fire-prone.

About 70 per cent of all the heather moorland in the world is in Britain.

Watch manager Phil Whittaker, of Hyndburn fire station, said the Softrackcould make a real difference when it comes to tackling moorland blazes.

He said: “It will obviously make a difference in getting firefighters upto where the fire is.

“We are getting close to raging fires, but when we are up against theblaze it can be very hot and the uniforms we have on often mean our energy issapped when we are on moorland.

“I also believe it has high pressure jets to soak the moorland peat sowe can get to the heart of the blaze.”

Lancashire has extensive moorland areas, primarily in the east and south ofthe county and firefighters have dealt with 125 moorland fires since January2003.

Lancashire’s chief fire officer, Peter Holland, said: “Softrack takesfirefighters and equipment right up to the fire, however remote and difficultthe terrain, taking steep gradients and muddy conditions in its stride and withminimal churning of the ground it moves over, thanks to its light weight andcompact design.”

It will be officially launched on Moorland near Colne on March 28.

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