Expert scientists who advise Scottish firefighters at the scenes of major contaminations have a new mobile base, in the shape of a very special Mercedes-Benz truck.

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The 15-tonne Atego 1524 Environmental Protection Unit was delivered to Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service by Bellshill dealer Western Commercial and is purpose-designed to assist at CBRN – Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear – incidents.

Its bespoke body is by Cebotec, of Falkirk, and split into two compartments: one is a state-of-the-art laboratory kitted out with an array of high-tech instruments and computers; the other serves as a command and communications centre. Both are also equipped with internal and external CCTV cameras.

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Robert Brown, Technical Support & Logistics Manager for the Strathclyde Service, explained to Tachoblog, “We employ a team of scientists who support fire crews attending chemical and environmental incidents, and this vehicle allows them to carry out their vital work at the scene.

“The fact that they are able to perform their tests and analysis without having to return to base, and report directly to the incident commander on the ground, can save crucial time when dealing with potentially dangerous situations.”

He continued, “As a 15-tonner our new Mercedes-Benz Atego is lighter and more manoeuvrable than the 18-tonne truck it has replaced. It was also less expensive to buy and will be more economical to run than another 18-tonner, while the fact that it has a smaller ‘footprint’ means it is kinder to the environment too.”

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The appliance is based at Strathclyde Fire Service HQ in Hamilton, from where it is detailed to attend incidents in its own region and, if necessary, across Scotland.

Strathclyde Fire Service also runs several other Mercedes-Benz vehicles, including another two 15-tonne Atego used as community fire safety units, and some specialised 7.5-tonne Vario light fire tenders.

“So we know from experience that Mercedes-Benz vehicles are extremely reliable,” added Mr Brown, “while the support we receive from the manufacturer and Western Commercial is first class too.”

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