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Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Monday, 13 September 2010 16:20 UK
Humberside Fire Service tries out new fire engine
Fire engine
The new unit has already helped with a peat fire

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is starting a trial of a new type of fire engine.

The Small Fires Unit is a converted 4x4 which is designed to deal with minor blazes.

Crewed by two firefighters, the unit carries limited equipment and will not be used where there is a risk to life.

Similar apparatus is in use by fire brigades across the country; typically dealing with field and wheelie bin fires.

Daryl Oprey is head of operations for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service. He said he hopes the unit will free up larger fire engines to attend more serious incidents:

"A lot of the time, in some of the areas that we're going to do the trial in, it [a large fire engine] turns out to these wheelie bin fires. So, it takes that life-saving appliance away from what its real need is. So in future, it might be that the trial may show us that it's taking a few of those calls off several of those fire appliances."

The vehicle has a 200 litres water tank and a special hose system that produces a high pressure water mist, designed to put out fires more efficiently.

The hose can be drilled into the earth to combat underground fires such as the recent peat blaze at Swinefleet.

The engine will not be based at a fire station. The service is using statistics from emergency calls to predict where fires will take place at certain times of day and will position the vehicle close by, ready to respond.

Daryl Oprey
Daryl Oprey: Hopes the local community will get involved in the trial

The unit has undergone a month's trial in Grimsby and has now been relocated to Hull for a further month to assess its usefulness. The urban areas have been selected as the fire brigade has seen a rise over the last five years in the number of small nuisance fires in both places.

After the trial there will be an assessment to see if the service will purchase any of the new units.

The local branch of the Fire Brigades Union has voiced concerns that the smaller engines may be introduced in the future as a cost cutting measure to replace larger appliances.

The fire service denies this and says the units, if adopted, will supplement existing tenders.

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