Norfolk fire service meets global warming challenges with 4x4 fire engines
Fire chiefs have revealed how they are having to spend �3.2m on the fire-engine equivalents of 'a Swiss Army knife' because climate change is causing more floods and heath blazes in Norfolk.
The county's fire and rescue service is investing millions of pounds in a dozen new fire appliances because the traditional two-wheel-drive vehicles are no longer always up to the increasingly challenging jobs to which firefighters are called out.
Fire chiefs say climate change means cases of flooding and fires on Norfolk heathland in drier summers are on the increase, and that means the service needs vehicles more suitable for coping with such incidents.
Ten new 4x4 engines are being brought in, along with two heavy rescue pumps, which help deal with road crashes.
Norfolk's assistant chief fire officer, Roy Harold, said: 'What we wanted was a Swiss Army knife of fire engines, something with the capacity and flexibility to cope with the challenges we face.
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'We have selected a vehicle that can carry everything a normal rescue pump and can seat up to nine firefighters.
'These fire engines don't have full 'off-road' capability but do have that 4x4 extra traction and a wading ability up to 75cm.
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'We have done a great deal of work mapping risk patterns and the changing risk profile in our county.
'These 10 fire engines are much better suited to deal with incidents involving flooding, heathland and forestry.'
Mr Harold said a climate change impact assessment drawn up with the help of Met Office predictions, showed Norfolk would experience more flooding, with harsher storms in winter and higher temperatures and drought in the summers.
He said: 'We know that Norfolk is at increased risk of flooding and you only have to look at how close we came with the tidal surge in Great Yarmouth a few years back.
'And we know from work that the Met Office has done that for every one degree summer temperature hike you get up to 23pc more fires.'
The service used capital grant funding from the government to buy the new kit outright, securing a discount and 2010 prices for the vehicles to save the Norfolk taxpayer around �2m.
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