Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service (LFRS) has invested in water pumping equipment from Winton Engineering for its tactical response vehicles (TRVs),
For LFRS, a key requirement was more cost efficient initial response vehicles capable of dealing with a wide variety of incidents.
The service identified that not all incidents attended required a full-sized fire engine, which had to be crewed by a minimum of four people.
With this in mind, it wanted agile vehicles which could be operated by just two firefighters, and hold a maximum of four, and which could travel down narrow lanes to arrive at the scene of an incident within the 10-minute response time.
To implement this operational strategy, LFRS called on Emergency One to design and deliver a custom fleet of tactical response vehicles (TRVs), which would be capable of shaving critical minutes off response times without compromising on performance.
Tim Kirk, workshop manager at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, explained: “A suitable water pump had been identified which would be able to supply water at the required level of pressure and flow, but the challenge was to find a system which could power the Godiva KP2 pump. To solve this, Emergency One approached Winton to provide a solution.”
Unlike a full-size fire engine, which is manufactured from scratch with all the equipment fitted from the beginning of the process, both Emergency One and Winton’s teams were tasked with converting three-litre Iveco vans. This meant that Winton’s system had to be retrofittable into the vehicle.
Explained Mark Chapman, engineering manager at Winton: “On a standard fire engine, the power take-off (PTO) unit and pump are mounted to the vehicle’s chassis, and the body is designed to be built around these.
“However, when converting an existing van, this can’t be done. To overcome this challenge, our system comes up through the floor of the vehicle to give access to the driveline and the pump from the inside.”
The PTO output speed is dependent upon the engine speed and the internal gear ratio of the PTO. Therefore, the optimum running speed was calculated based on the pump power requirements and the available power from the vehicle engine.
By settling on a 1:1 PTO belt drive ratio, Winton’s engineering team matched both the pump and engine power, which allowed for direct drive in the vehicle gearbox. This would reduce drive power losses and keep the gearbox cooler during operation.
The PTO is engaged/disengaged using the main transmission clutch and a remote-control mechanism which operates on the PTO itself. The PTO then connects directly to a hydraulic pump.
This allows for transmission of mechanical force through the hydraulic fluid system to power the water pump, at a substantial maximum output of 110kw at 3157rpm input speed.
The resulting prototype TRV carries equipment and supplies similar to a standard fire engine, but is also equipped with a 700-litre water tank. It went through rigorous testing at Emergency One and LFRS’s training centre before going on the road to test its ability to deal with smaller types of incidents and undertake initial actions at larger, more serious cases prior to the arrival of reinforcing fire engines.
‘Show and Tell’ sessions were also arranged to showcase the prototype vehicle to all the firefighters and management at LFRS. This provided Tim, along with Emergency One and Winton, the opportunity to demonstrate how the vehicle and its facilities worked and enabled the firefighters to provide feedback on the prototype.
With other aspects of the vehicle already anticipated to meet the service’s requirements, the PTO was the only system that was entirely new and required to prove itself.
“The prototype met our needs spot on, and we were very impressed with Winton’s power system too,” Tim said.
“Not only did it deliver the minimum power requirements – it exceeded our expectations. It is easy to operate, which is essential so that our firefighters can focus on dealing with the task at hand when they arrive on site.”
The prototype TRV is now fully in use across Leicestershire and is described by Tim as an integral part of their frontline response. He says that compared to first response vehicles operated by other fire and rescue teams, this prototype can deal with a wider variety of incidents, as it carries specialist equipment that even a fully-fledged fire engine does not, such as cutting equipment and thermal imaging cameras.
Other first response vehicles elsewhere in the country are designed to respond to specialist incidents such as grass or forest fires, with different water pump outputs and aren’t powered by a PTO system.
Nevertheless, Tim would recommend the Winton System for both rural and urban fire and rescue teams considering a fleet of first responses vehicles.
Another four vehicles are in the process of becoming operational which will provide LFRS with more flexibility when responding to emergencies. With nothing else as pioneering as these TRVs on the road in the UK, Tim predicts that other fire and rescue services up and down the country may adopt a similar approach.
Tim added: “These vehicles far exceeded our expectations, with an excellent on-vehicle power system to match. Winton has listened to our requirements and met our needs, providing us with a complete end-to-end service from design and testing to point of handover.
“Their exceptional service and support have helped us to get these vehicles out on time and within budget, so that we can effectively distribute critical fire service resources while meeting response times.”