West Sussex residents can look forward to enhanced cover from their local fire service following the introduction of a radical new appliance based on the UK’s first 6×6 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Developed by German specialist Oberaigner, the 7.0-tonne chassis combines a highly competitive payload with exceptional ‘go anywhere’ capability.
The ground-breaking vehicle has been commissioned, along with a 4×4 Sprinter, by West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. Supplied by local Dealer Rossetts Commercials, the sole UK agent for the 6×6 variant, both have purpose-designed bodies by WH Bence Coachworks, of Bristol. They are equipped with ultra-high pressure (100 bar, 38 litres/min) pumps, battery-powered hydraulic rescue gear and medical response equipment including defibrilators, as well as comprehensive communications systems.
Based in Midhurst, the Oberaigner vehicle can deliver a crew of up to five to any incident in any weather across the county. Its 1,200-litre tank will allow crews to fight off-road heath and forest fires with water or foam for 30 minutes before needing to refill. It is also well equipped to cope when roads are compromised by severe weather, such as heavy snow. The 6×6 also has a snorkel for enhanced capability in deep water. The 1.8 tonnes of spare capacity allows mission-specific loads to be transported to incidents, enabled by a rear-mounted hoist.
The 5.0-tonne 4×4 Sprinter will operate from Storrington. Fitted with a 400-litre tank, it has been specified to carry Environment Agency spill kits and swift water rescue equipment. As this vehicle may be the first to reach the scene of an accident on the A24 trunk road, the rear also has high-visibility markings to maximise operator safety.
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has been running smaller 4×4 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens in a variety of roles since 1999 and these have impressed with their reliability and performance. Its specialist rescue and support teams also use Mercedes-Benz Vito vans, alongside a 4×4 Unimog truck.
Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Kieran Amos explained: “We wanted to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach and have more flexibility in our off-road fleet. These new 6×6 and 4×4 vehicles are not intended to be like-for-like replacements but represent a new concept for us in terms of equipment carried and operational capacity. They give us options for future mobilising which can be tailored to the specific demands of each incident.
“Most importantly, our vehicles have to meet the needs of the firefighters who will be using them. We believe the Sprinters represent a significant improvement for our fleet and will enhance the response we can provide to communities in times of need.”
County Fleet Manager Paul Mace said: “The Fire & Rescue Service works closely with Sussex Police and South-East Coast Ambulance, both of which operate extensive fleets of Mercedes-Benz vans. This, coupled with comprehensive research and our own positive experience, gave us the confidence to invest in these new vehicles.
“The Sprinter offers well proven reliability and closely matched our requirements in terms of weights, performance and economy, as well as supply chain and after sales back-up. These two, highly flexible vehicles will enable us to deliver a full range of capabilities in all terrains and all conditions, across a rural part of the county.”
Rossetts Commercials Van Sales Manager Mike Sanders added: “As well as firefighting and rescue operations, the Oberaigner Sprinter’s outstanding traction makes it ideally suited to forestry and utilities work. The Sprinter 4×4, meanwhile, is also aimed at building and utilities contractors, and municipal operators, who often have to work on rough terrain and in challenging conditions.”
To arrange a test drive of either vehicle, call Mike on 07795 564572.