Coventry & Warwickshire

Bedworth firefighters' 4x4 vehicle prompts safety concerns

The introduction of a new 4x4 response vehicle designed to tackle fires in Warwickshire has prompted safety fears.

The Small Fires Unit will be based in Bedworth and will support a project that is claimed to have reduced the number of deliberate small fires.

County councillor Richard Hobbs said using the vehicle was a "logical step".

But a Fire Brigades Union (FBU) spokesman said there was "more chance of lives being put at risk" because of longer attendance times with the 4x4.

Steve Roberts, from the FBU, admitted he was concerned because the vehicle could only carry three crew members to fires as opposed to the four or five that travel with the bigger appliances currently used.

'Intervention and education'

Mr Roberts said: "You still need the [traditional] vehicles. Prevention work is always a good thing but you still need to have the capability to react when something does happen.

"If you turn up without the right equipment fires get bigger very quickly.

"On a normal fire engine there's an awful lot more equipment and you can deal with virtually any incident just from that machine."

The 4x4 will come into service in April and will support a team that has been tackling anti-social behaviour in the Nuneaton and Bedworth area since October 2007.

Mr Hobbs, from the Conservative-led county council, said: "The team relied entirely on the principle of engagement, intervention and education and had no physical means with which to fight fires."

"This unit will have the capabilities to tackle small fires and carry on the principles... that have proved so successful.

"The capability to extinguish a small fire with this unit ensures that our main fire appliances are still available to respond to other emergencies where life may be at threat and not otherwise occupied at a small fire."

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