Three new all-terrain Mercedes-Benz Unimogs have been bought by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, in the UK. The fire department said the purchases have enhanced its ability to deal with a wide variety of incidents in difficult-to-access locations.
The new vehicles are 14-tonne gross vehicle weight U423s with 4x4 chassis powered by 170 kW (231 hp) Euro VI engines. They are fitted with dropside bodies by Guildford-based fire engine specialist John Dennis Coachbuilders and have Palfinger PK 9001-EH high performance cranes which were supplied and fitted by TH White, of Devizes, Wiltshire. They also have 6.0-tonne Bushey Hall winches.
The cranes are used primarily to rescue horses and other large animals that have become trapped in water or other hazards, with equipment such as strops, harnesses and skid boards, which is carried in a dedicated locker.
They also lift mission-specific demountable ‘pods’ on and off the vehicles. One, a ‘rescue pod’, contains an inventory for use by Suffolk’s swift water rescue teams; as an extension to the Unimog’s role, the new vehicles also tow rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). A second pod is a 1,500-litre water tank with pump and hose reel.
According to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, removal of the pods means the deck can be used to transport vital equipment which can be used, for example, when responding to train or aircraft crashes that may occur at inaccessible locations.
“The Unimog is not cheap but it is actually a highly cost-effective piece of equipment,” said Neil Elmy, fleet and equipment Manager for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. “An unrivalled combination of all-terrain performance, agility and adaptability makes it the perfect platform for a variety of applications and means that in our case it does the job of several different vehicles rolled into one.”