Enhancing our special appliances

We currently have 44 ‘special appliance’ vehicles across our city-region, with dedicated equipment and technology for use in specific situations. As part of our Special Appliances Review, we have evaluated each of these vehicles for their ability to meet our present and future challenges – and found that 13 of these vehicles require major enhancements and three will soon no longer be fit for purpose.

We are therefore proposing the following changes to enhance our special appliance fleet.

Replace three Hydraulic Platform Vehicles (HPV) with new High Reach Extendable Turrets (HRET)

Our HPVs currently located at Leigh and Oldham, with an additional vehicle in reserve, are reaching the end of their serviceable life. It is proposed that these be replaced with new alternatives HRETs which are also classed as Aerial Appliances. Our current AA fleet contains seven vehicles and we propose to maintain this number but reconfigure their capabilities and locations.

The HRETs are equipped with a mechanical arm that can be extended to reach high places such as tall buildings, grounded aircraft, or ships. The HRET is also equipped with a turret nozzle that can pierce buildings and project water onto a fire from a safe distance, however, they do not provide a cage rescue capability. These would be based at Whitefield in Bury and Wigan fire stations, adding to our existing HRET based at Salford Fire Station – ensuring greater coverage across our city-region.

These vehicles will enhance our water firefighting capabilities and resources as they are also a fire appliance and they do not require a second support vehicle to attend an incident with them, freeing up capacity for use elsewhere and increasing the speed of the response.

Move one our four Turntable Ladders (TTL) from Stretford to Oldham Fire Station

Our TTLs have extendable, rotating ladders that allow access to high places such as roofs and upper floors of tall buildings and they are currently located at Manchester Central, Bolton Central, Whitehill and Stretford. Moving one TLL from Stretford to Oldham would improve our response times and ensure fires and rescues in all high-rise buildings across the city-region could be reached within our target of 20 minutes.

Additional training will be required for operational staff at Oldham and will take up to three months to complete but this will remove the training implication from Stretford. 

This change will ensure a 20-minute special appliance attendance standard for our cage rescue capability across Greater Manchester and to all high-rise buildings, with an improved response time. 

Enhance our water search and rescue capability

Greater Manchester currently has two Water Incident Units, based in Heywood in Rochdale and Eccles in Salford. These have a range of specialist equipment and trained and skilled crew members for searching for and rescuing people from water, ice, mud and unstable ground. To address the growing risk of climate emergencies such as flooding and other water-related incidents, we are proposing to enhance our water response capabilities through enhanced training, increasing the number of current water rescue resources, and replacing three vehicles with new ones. We will do this introducing a three-tier approach covering each of our 41 fire stations.

  • Tier 1 – Floods and incidents in lakes, canals, docks and other still, open water will continue to be responded to by all fire stations.
  • Tier 2 – Enhanced Rescue Stations (see section above) at Leigh in Wigan and Ashton in Tameside will receive additional equipment and enhanced training for rescues from ‘swift’ or ‘white’ water conditions.
  • Tier 3 – Ashton will join Heywood and Eccles in hosting a dedicated Water Incident Unit, including new / replacement rescue vehicles for each and a powered boat.

These proposals will increase our water search and rescue capability from four units to six and include increasing the number of powered rescue boats from two to three.

Other special appliances

Other proposed changes to our special appliances include:

  • Introducing a second Breathing Apparatus (BA) main control support at Hollins Fire Station (alongside the existing unit at Altrincham) to improve resilience.
  • Replace the current welfare units (currently at Hyde, Atherton and Irlam) and base them alongside our Command Vehicles at Hyde, Atherton and Rochdale to provide a standardised model and improved facilities for crews.
  • Retain our two Wildfire Units at Bolton North and Stalybridge and four Wildfire Support Units at Irlam, Horwich, Littleborough and Mossley and enhance our capability by purchasing an additional transportation vehicle for both Stalybridge and Bolton North instead of leasing them.
  • Retain our two Foam Units at Sale and Farnworth and procure additional equipment to enhance our capability for larger foam incidents. 
  • Retain our two Hose Laying Lorries at Chadderton and Cheadle but replace the hose from 100mm to 150mm to improve our water provision capability.   

There are also other appliances which are either a National Resilience capability or funded by the Environment Agency. All have been determined to be in the right place and are fit for purpose (or there is a separate replacement plan in place).

These are:  

  • Two High Volume Pumps  
  • The Detection Information and Monitoring Unit 
  • The Mass Decontamination Unit 
  • The Environmental Protection Unit