London Oxford Airport is pioneering the introduction in the UK of a brand new state-of-the-art fire tender, representing an investment of over ?500,000. The tender has been purchased from Spanish company, the ITURRI Group of Seville and is now being introduced into service.
It was seen for the first time by the general public at the Oxford 'Fly-to-the-Past' Air Show on 21st August, which attracted a 10,000-strong crowd. Airport industry professionals saw the tender earlier in August when UK airport and aircraft handling business representatives attended a stakeholder briefing on preparing for the Olympics, hosted at London Oxford Airport. The airport will play a significant role hosting overseas business jets during the Games next year, having been identified as one of the London region airports to take additional Olympics traffic.
The addition of the new fire tender is part of London Oxford Airport’s commitment to upgrade all areas of the airport's operations with the latest generation systems and equipment. “Our goal is to introduce up to three new engines to our fleet within the next five years as part of our ongoing priority to improve Oxford Airport’s safety services. We are very proud to be the first airport in the UK to showcase ITURRI’s expertise,” said Mike Sparrow, Airport Manager. Ground service equipment has also been upgraded during the summer with a new ?60,000 Lektro tug suitable for 55-tonne jets.
The new vehicle includes a number of specific solutions for the airport market including a lower centre of gravity to improve vehicle stability; increased power from a 6x6 chassis which also includes off road capability; and a slightly lighter body made of a recyclable specific composite known as EcoPoly Fibre, which allows for greater water carriage and improved acceleration. For the crew, a new cab design offers improved space and provides 180 degree visibility, a UK CAA requirement.
A unique factor specific to the UK market is the inclusion of an external monitor platform which sits just behind the cab. This provides the officer in charge an external space from which to fully view an emergency situation and from which to co-ordinate the rest of the crew. The new vehicle includes a number of specific solutions for the airport market, including a lower centre of gravity to improve vehicle stability and increased power.
“In an airport incident situation you need a tender that is fast, quick and powerful as the window for preventing serious damage or for saving lives is very small,” commented Mark Phipps Chief Fire Officer at Oxford.
The Emergency Division of ITURRI has more than 60 years heritage in fire tender manufacturing and specialises in the fire brigade and forest fire sector. Its commitment to the airport sector was demonstrated by a multi-million euro investment into its manufacturing division on the outskirts of Seville just over four years ago and continues to be a major focus of their business expansion.
London Oxford Airport's 23 full-time fire crew upgraded from Cat 2 RFF to Cat 6 RFF capability a few years ago, making it suitable for supporting the largest aircraft using Oxford's 1592m runway including Airbus, Boeing and Embraer bizliners and regional airliner models. In 2012, a new fire station is to be built to accommodate the larger Iturri-type tenders.