Lancashire fire service launches ‘Caterpillar’ engine

Lancashire fire service launches ‘Caterpillar’ engine

27 March 2008

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United Kingdom — Lancashire Fire and Rescue has launched its latest engine, the Softrack.

Kitted out with Caterpillar tracks and firefighting equipment, the lightweight, off-road machine can carry firefighters across rough terrain to tackle emergencies in Lancashire’s woods and moorland.

Moorland fires pose a huge threat to the environment and the new fire engine will enable crews to tackle the fire quickly and effectively.

Peter Holland, Lancashire’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “Softrack takes firefighters and equipment right up to the fire, however remote and difficult the terrain, taking steep gradients and muddy conditions in its stride and with minimal churning of the ground it moves over.

“In addition to its firefighter crew of five, it carries a thousand litre tank of water for fighting fires or can pump water from external supplies, such as ponds and streams, to jet on to the fire.”

During a fire on Anglezarke Moor in 2003 a team of 50 firefighters and eight fire engines spent eight hours tackling the blaze.

The Softrack in action
The Softrack in action

Access for fire engines was almost impossible and firefighters had to beat the mile long fire with paddle-like bats to extinguish the burning undergrowth.

Apart from the drain on Fire Service resources, the environmental impact of such fires is considerable. Lancashire has extensive moorland areas, primarily in the east and south of the county, and although grass and heather will grow again after a fire, the peat beneath is lost forever, putting a unique eco-system at risk.

County Councillor Shelagh Derwent, Lancashire Combined Fire Authority member overseeing environmental issues, said: “Though lifesaving and the prevention of injury are necessarily key aims of the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, a high priority too is the protection of the environment.

“In addition to the other threats that fires present to life, property and the economy, they can do a great deal of damage to the environment.

“The intervention of firefighters is crucial on such occasions and in the specialised situations the Softrack fire engine is designed for, by reducing response times and the duration of the incident, it will contribute significantly to the already excellent work of the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, not least in protecting the environment.”

Development teams from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service worked closely with Devon-based manufacturer, Loglogic, to create the firefighting resource.

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