The rescue of Shropshire motorists trapped in the wreckage of their cars after a road crash has been given a major boost with a new specialist rescue tender for county firefighters.
The multi purpose rescue appliance has already been used on a number of emergency calls across Shropshire to rescue both people and animals since it was introduced two weeks ago.
Shropshire & Wrekin Fire Authority chairman Stuart West formally handed over the keys to District Support Officer Dave Dickens at Wellington fire station where the appliance will be based.
"It is a very sophisticated appliance with the equipment on board designed and organised by the crews who will operate it," said Mr Dickens, project manager, who with his crew has been planning for the new tender for 18 months.
"It is ready for anything. It is Shropshire's only specialised multi purpose rescue appliance and will be used all over the county mainly for rescuing people from road crashes and to free trapped animals."
But the tender also has the capability for urban search and rescue in which firefighters are trained ready for major incidents such as the collapse of buildings.
They will be able to shore up collapsed buildings, break through reinforced concrete, brick, metal or glass, and carry out efficient search and rescues using listening equipment, cameras, hydraulic struts, drills, rotary hammers and lighting all stored on board.
Hydraulic cutting and spreading gear will be used in road crashes, shoring for trench collapses and equipment for water rescues.
Firefighters visited a number of other brigades to identify the specialist equipment they would need to protect Shropshire in emergencies.
The tender has already been used in a number of emergency incidents including the rescue of a trapped motorist at Ludlow, a horse stuck in a brook near Nesscliffe and another trapped horse at Newport.
The tender, which will last for 15 years, upgrades a former appliance which has been sent to volunteer firefighters in Hungary.