Sunderland firefighters go to blazes in eco-friendly cars

L-R Watch Manager Kevin Burns and Group Manager Steve Anderson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
L-R Watch Manager Kevin Burns and Group Manager Steve Anderson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service
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FIRE brigade workers are going green by hitting the road with two new eco-friendly vehicles.

Staff at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service are trying out the new electric and hybrid cars.

As the brigade continues its pledge to reduce carbon emissions, teams will take to the streets in the new Avid Compact Urban Electric Vehicle (CUE-V) and the Toyota Auris Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD).

The Avid CUE-V, from North East- based Avid Vehicles Ltd, will be used over a six-month trial by officers in the service’s community safety and fire safety departments, based at Railway Row in Sunderland.

The car is being provided through the Switch EV project, which sees 44 electric vehicles from five different manufacturers being trialled by organisations and people across the North East.

Kevin Hepple, area manager for corporate support, from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Electric and hybrid vehicles will undoubtedly play an essential part in the future of motoring.

“These trials reflect the service’s efforts to reduce its impact on the environment and encourage sustainable travel.

“The trial of these electric and hybrid cars will give staff an alternative, greener way to get about their business and feedback from the team will enable the service to assess the value of the vehicles as we plan our transport fleet in the future.”

Staff from across the fire service have also been testing out the hybrid Toyota Auris, from Toyota dealer Minories,

Over the coming months, the cars will be put through their paces on the region’s roads to provide a greener way for staff to get about their every day business, but will not be used for blue-light responses.

To make sure the project moves at top speed, a charging post has been installed at the service’s headquarters in Washington, with the device partially-funded through the Government’s Plugged-In Places programme.

The move to green transport comes as part of the fire service’s Environment Strategy, agreed in April 2010, in which it aims to reduce carbon emissions by 22 per cent by March 2015.

Gary Aitchison, business centre manager at Minories, said: “Minories Toyota is delighted to announce that after recent discussions, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has taken delivery of the Auris Hybrid for its evaluation.

“We believe the Auris Hybrid will help shape perceptions as the service looks to new technology that may contribute to reducing its carbon emissions over the coming years, as well as becoming more fuel efficient.”