Whether firefighting from a rescue cage or rescuing people from height – the new B32 hydraulic platforms of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service are characterised by one thing above all: the flexible usage possibilities. That is also the main reason why these aerials will play an important role in the future in the most varied of operations all round Lancashire (GB).
One and a half million people live in the catchment area of the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service in the North West of England. 1,000 firefighters divided between 38 fire stations are in operation to rapidly assist in the event of an accident. There are large towns as well as rural regions, busy motorways and nuclear power stations. Firefighting operations in heavily populated areas are as much part of their everyday operations as rescuing people from the most varied of unfortunate situations. From people in distress at sea on the coast through to aerial rescue – the B32 hydraulic platforms are enormously helpful in many operations thanks to their sophisticated design and equipment.
"Both the platforms will mainly be used as fire protection and rescue platforms", said Phil Cox of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. The hydraulic platforms are perfectly equipped for this purpose. The multifunctional working cage (working height up to 32 m) can accommodate five men and equipment. The area can be enlarged for each folding platform, and it is also well suited to transport people in wheelchairs. A rescue stretcher can also be attached to the cage. An accessory hook for descender devices is provided for aerial rescue. The working cage is provided with a water supply for firefighting operations. The telescopic water supply line can convey up to 3,000 l/min to the lofty heights. An Akron Streammaster water turret is attached to the cage, in addition to a 20 m hose reel. The turret can either be controlled from the main control panel or directly from the cage. Nozzles attached to the cage ensure that the crew is protected against heat and smoke. The B32s also perform an important service on the coast: "We want to use them as an observation platform for seaside operations and for persons in distress at sea, and rescue anyone who is in the vicinity of the sea wall via rope rescue", explains Phil Cox.
Operations with aerials are demanding for operators in particular. The B32 hydraulic platform can even be used in very tight spaces (under six metres jacking width). Ground pressure monitoring ensures that the platform is stable. The operator's control is supported by state-of-the-art systems incorporating safety mechanisms to ensure optimum safety for all involved. The Target-Memory System (TMS) enables rapid rescue even under difficult conditions. When the operator activates the TMS, the system memorises the movement (e.g. from the ground to a balcony for the first rescue operation). This process can then be repeated as often as necessary, whereby the movement speed of the boom can be continuously controlled by joystick. If the Vertical-Rescue-System (VRS) is activated, the cage only moves in a vertical direction. So people can be rescued from shafts, for example, or a house front in a narrow alley can be reached quickly. With VRS, the speed is also controlled by the operator, who can of course manually intervene in both systems at any time.
They are extremely pleased with both their new hydraulic platforms in England. At present, the crews are being trained on the new vehicles. "With these specialty vehicles, our firefighters have at their disposal the latest technology to allow them to perform at their best during firefighting and rescue operations", Area Manager Phil Cox proudly stated.