A First at Oxford

London Oxford Airport took delivery of the UK’s first Iturri-manufactured fire tender last summer. (All images – LOA)

London Oxford was the first British airport to take delivery of a new type of fire truck. Tom Allett reports.

London Oxford Airport took delivery of the UK’s first Iturri-manufactured fire tender last summer. (All images – LOA)

In the summer of 2011, London Oxford Airport (LOA), UK, took delivery of a brand new state-of-the-art fire tender that represented an investment of more than £500,000 (US$771,000). The vehicle was purchased from the Spanish Iturri Group of Seville and was seen by the public for the first time at the airport’s Fly To The Past air show last August.  Airport industry professionals had been given the opportunity to see the tender a little earlier when UK airport and aircraft handling company representatives attended a stakeholder briefing, hosted by LOA, about preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games.
LOA’s management team says that the addition of the new fire tender is part of its commitment to upgrade all areas of the airport’s operations with the latest generation systems and equipment.  Mike Sparrow, Airport Manager, said: “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.”
The tender, with its six-wheel chassis, was the first of its model to be built.  Constructed from a composite known as EcoPolyFire, a compound unique to Iturri, the manufacturer claims the tender is: “lighter than regular machines allowing for greater water carriage, 11,900 litres in total, and improved acceleration.”  EcoPolyFibre helps to prevent rust and is said to be easier and relatively cheaper to repair than alloy models.  The new vehicle includes a number of specific solutions for the airport market, including a lower centre of gravity than its predecessors to improve vehicle stability; increased power (over 700bhp) and the previously mentioned 6×6 chassis which improves its off-road capability.
For its crew, a new cab design offers improved space, visibility and safety.
Another unique factor, specific to the UK market, is the inclusion of an external monitor platform which sits just behind the cab.  This gives the operator an external space from which to fully view an emergency and from which important safety information can be passed to the rest of the crew.
Mark Phipps, Chief Fire Officer at Oxford, commented: “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.”
LOA’s 23 full-time fire crew upgraded from Cat 2 RFF capability a few years ago to the Cat 6 service they provide today.  This makes the airport suitable for the largest aircraft types that can use its 5,223ft (1592m) runway including Airbus, Boeing and Embraer ‘bizliners’ and regional airliner models.  Later this year, a new fire station will be built to accommodate the larger Iturri-type tenders.