A £3m investment has been made into the Airport Fire and Rescue’s firefighting capabilities with the purchase of four new vehicles and various pieces of equipment.
A further two vehicles will be delivered this month to the service.
The vehicles were formally unveiled by the Minister with responsibility for the Fire Service, Gilbert Licudi, alongside Chief Fire Officer Nicky Viñales, Chief Executive Officer of Gibraltar International Airport, Terrence Lopez, and Pepe Baldachino, a former firefighter and pioneer of the civilian entry into fire service at the airport.
The cost of the vehicles has been spilt between the Gibraltar Government and the MoD equally.
Three of the new vehicles are Rosenbauer Panthers and the other is an Angloco Mercedes Sprinter Light Rescue Pump. Two Volkswagen Amarok Command and Operational Support Vehicles have been ordered from Rock Motors separately.
All these vehicles are fitted with the latest Euro 6 engines and will replace the present MoD fleet once they are commissioned and become fully operational.
The existing vehicles used by the fire service are approximately 20 years old.
Mr Licudi said the new vehicles would provide “better and safer firefighting capabilities should any incident at the airport.”
“This is an aspect of the money that we spend the investment the Government makes which is not always seen,” he said.
“This is not out and about in Gibraltar’s streets, it is not like new schools or houses, these are investments that are made into safety which is paramount.”
The new vehicles have propelled the Airport Fire and Rescue Service into the 21st Century, with its considerably enhanced firefighting capabilities. They are expected to future proof the service for the next 15 to 20 years.
Mr Viñales called the new vehicles a “significant upgrade in terms of the firefighting media capacity and capabilities of the vehicle.”
“In our current fleet, the largest of those carries 6,850 litres of water and the smallest of these carries 6,500 litres,” he said.
“The largest each has 11,500 litres of water,” he added.
In addition, “much larger capacities of foam is carried, which when mixed with water produces a firefighting media for aircraft incidents. Both of these vehicles also carry a dry powder, a chemical powder (Purple K) and that is another firefighting agent the vehicles produce,” he said.
The Panther engines have rear wheel drive enabling them to have smaller turning circles, and from the roof monitor it can have a water jet throw of 95 metres and from the bumper monitor 90 metres
It also carries numerous bits of ancillary equipment such as; thermal imaging cameras, breathing apparatus, hydraulic cutting and lifting gear for rescue, high pressure lifting airbags, 8 metre ladder, portable lighting and rescue tools roof monitor having a jet throw of 95 metres and the bumper monitor 90 metres.
The Mercedes Sprinter can carry 500 litres of water, 50 litres of Foam, pump with a 2,000 litre per minute capacity and has numerous bits of ancillary equipment including ; thermal imaging cameras, breathing apparatus, hydraulic cutting and lifting gear for rescue, high pressure lifting airbags, 8 metre ladder, portable lighting and rescue tools.
This vehicles will be used outside the airfield if needed and in support of when called upon by the Gibraltar City Fire Service.
The two new Amarok has a 3.5 tonne front mounted winch, towing capability and a rear tray with a 1.5 tonne payload capability.
Mr Viñales said the that the firefighters have welcomed the new vehicles.
“You can imagine vehicles nearing the end of their live are subject to issues and that is a constant bane that they have to live with. These new vehicles are a lot more reliable and there is totally new technology,” he said.
The training of the firefighters is expected to be completed by the end of August.
“Everybody needs to be trained, everybody needs to be competent with all the operating systems and all the fault diagnostics,” he explained.
Pics by Johnny Bugeja