The ability to tackle pollution incidents in the county has been boosted with a joint initiative between Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Environment Agency.
Four of the brigade’s existing four wheel drive vehicles are being kitted out by the Environment Agency with better equipment for firefighters to deal with fuel and chemical spills to prevent potential environmental disasters.
Also a new Toyota Hilux – dubbed an Environmental Protection Unit – has been jointly provided by the Environment Agency and the county brigade.
Based at Minsterley fire station in the centre of the county, it will have a dual role to respond to pollution incidents and be used to fight the regular grass and heath fires which break out in and around the Long Mynd and Stiperstones, said Andrew Kelcey, Head of Resources at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Equipment to deal with pollution incidents on board can block drains, plug fuel leaks and absorb chemical or fuel oil leaks.
“The fire and rescue service gets to incidents quicker than we can and firefighters can act immediately to contain pollution until our officers get there,” said John Bateman, from the Environment Agency, based in Shrewsbury.
“Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service always does a fantastic job in stopping pollution incidents but this new vehicle and equipment will allow them to respond even more quickly.”
The new vehicle replaces a 20-year-old Land Rover pump based at Minsterley and will enable firefighters’ to respond immediately to emergencies in remote rural areas where traditional fire appliances have limited access.
The new vehicle and extra equipment for Shropshire is part of a national project to equip all UK fire and rescue services.
Shropshire already has an environmental protection fire appliance, stocked by the Environment Agency, which is stationed at Tweedale fire station in Telford. Every fire engine also carries pollution fighting equipment to seal drains and mop up fuel in an accident.
“These vehicles have already proved their worth many times. They are especially useful when a rapid response is required and can be very cost effective,” said Mr Bateman.
Drain blockers aboard the Tweedale based fire truck helped to contain a significant quantity of slurry in a leak at Harper Adams University in February, he added. At this incident, temporary dams were set up to minimise the leaking farm waste from entering watercourses.
Retained firefighter Mel Kapitanec said that the new appliance would be very useful off road for fighting grass fires in the region. A special “fire fogging” unit aboard the new vehicle converts water into a fine spray which was perfect for tackling grass fires.