THEY may be 10 tons lighter than a traditional fire engine but the fleet of five MINI Countryman models now being used by the London Fire Brigade is proving to be just as efficient.
The four-wheel drive Countryman ALL4 models have only two seats, which enables them to fit six extinguishers in the back – two each of water, foam and powder – plus a first aid kit and defibrillator.
And because they are able to manoeuvre more easily than full sized fire engines they are perfect for certain situations, reducing response times.
Known affectionately by some firefighters as “little squirts” the MINI Countryman models were loaned to the London Fire Brigade by BMW for the London Olympics (BMW Group was the Official Automotive Partner to the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games. Click here to read more).
The MINI Clubmans proved to be so successful during the Games that the Brigade decided to buy them and put them into full time operation.
A brigade spokesman said they were often stationed at busy high profile events, like the Notting Hill Carnival, because of their versatility.
“Because they are small they can get through the crowds easier, which could be vital on certain occasions,” the spokesman said.
“They have often been used as “initial response vehicles” to minor incidents at large-scale events.”
During the Games the MINI “fire engines” were sent out on more than 300 emergency calls because of their ability to get through crowds more swiftly.
At just 5ft 10 ins wide they are two feet narrower than their larger siblings but because of their bright red and yellow livery and blue flashing lights are just as conspicuous.
And because they are around a tenth of the price of a new fire engine and are more economical to run the Countryman models are also saving the London Fire Brigade money.
The initiative could spread to other brigades across the country over the next few years, with Merseyside’s Chief Fire Officer, Dan Stephens, suggesting “small vehicles probably make up less than 5 per cent of fleets at the moment, but that number could increase to 30 per cent in the next 10 years.”
Click here to read more about the MINI ALL4 Countryman
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