Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

1m fire engines are 'too heavy'

combined fire vehicle
The vehicle combines an aerial platform and standard engine

A fire brigade is considering legal action after paying nearly 1m for two state-of-the-art fire engines it says do not work as intended.

The Magirus Multistar Pumps were built to combine the capabilities of an aerial platform and fire engine.

However, since buying them in 2006, Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service said flaws had left them non-operational and they were too heavy.

Suppliers GB Fire have yet to comment on the fire brigade's concern.

The machines, supplied by the West Midlands-based firm, were manufactured by German company Magirus.

Since their purchase, the vehicles have been returned to the manufacturer for alterations on several occasions but as yet have only been used for training.

Following an extensive trial period, two new aerial rescue platform fire engines will not be operating as first envisaged
Fire brigade statement
They were bought to cut costs in the service by combining two vehicles into one, thus reducing staff needs and running costs.

Lothian and Borders Fire Service have also purchased a similar lighter appliance and are due to make it operational in the near future.

However, bosses at Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service said that despite repeated attempts to bring them into use, the 18 tonne vehicles were not being used in frontline operations.

It is understood the brigade is now considering adapting the vehicles for use as either a hydraulic platform or standard fire engines.

In a statement, the brigade said: "Following an extensive trial period, two new aerial rescue platform fire engines will not be operating as first envisaged.

"We are disappointed that a number of technical issues relating to the manufacture and design of the vehicles have prevented the intended use and resulted in a reconsideration as to how they may be used in the future."

Gordon McQuade, of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "The unwise rush for so-called modernisation after the national fire dispute was clearly the driving force behind the purchase of these combined vehicles which would have meant less emergency appliances in Central Scotland and in turn would have resulted in less frontline firefighters and job losses.

"After a long wait of over two years for these vehicles to become operational, firefighters across Central Scotland will welcome the decision that these vehicles will now not be used as a combined vehicle in future."

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