Murray J. Mackay, Brigade Engineer

Highland and Islands Fire Brigade







Highland & Islands Fire Brigade is a joint authority combining the Highland Regional Council, Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Isles Council and the Western Isles Council. The area extends to 12,400 sq miles of some of the most beautiful unspoilt scenery to be encountered. To illustrate the size of the area, if one was to take a radius from Headquarters in Inverness to the most outlying station and turn it through 180° the point would reach south of Manchester.

The attractions of this area are well publicised and tourism is a thriving industry. Population in some areas can treble during the summer months. The area is principally rural with vast areas of moorland and forest.

Given the vast area, the brigade relies heavily on Volunteer Units to act and respond to fire calls or special services until such time as the wholetime or retained firefighters arrive on the scene.

At present there are 98 Volunteer Units each with an establishment of 10 firefighters. The logistics of moving firefighters and equipment quickly to an incident poses obvious problems and several concept vehicles/appliances have been tried over an extended period. These have ranged from converted car-derived vans carrying only equipment but no water, up to a crew of 5. Here, the main pump is driven by a transfer box/PTO and produces 350 GPM.

While this concept is effective, there are certain drawbacks.

-               Considerable power is lost through the drive line.

-               The fixed pump limits operational uses.

-               The vehicle is expensive to convert.

Brigade Workshops moved to new premises in 1992 and the improved facilities created an opportunity to increase their productivity. It was therefore decided to design and build light fire appliances “in house”. These were to follow on from the vehicle already on the run throughout the area, but with the brief to overcome any shortcomings in the light of the experience gained from them.

Since Workshop’s relocation, twenty two vans have been purchased for conversion and twenty are now complete and on the run. Each van was modified and fitted with 3 x Robinson Roller Shutter Doors - 2 side and 1 rear - for entry to the load area. A crew cab area was created with a bulkhead situated between that and the stowage area. The crew cab is designed to carry a crew of 3 - 4 complete with BA stowage. Additional side windows were fitted to give a light airy environment for the crew to travel in safety and comfort.

A special frame was constructed to house hose racks, branches, extinguishers etc., to be accessed through the side doors. An integral feature of the frame is that it also supports a 100 gallon GRP tank, above which is mounted a hose reel with 180’ of ¾” hose.

A sliding cradle houses a Godiva GP1600 or GP10/10 pump which is piped to the water tank in the travel mode but can be easily disconnected for portable use if required. A Honda/Clarke 2” pump or the equivalent Alcon pump is also carried which delivers 150 GPM or 170 GPM respectively.

A roof gantry was constructed to house 2” and 4” hard suction, a roof ladder and a triple extension ladders.

The electrics have been upgraded to take account of the Premier Hazard light bar, repeater lamps, work lamps and improved interior lighting.

It should be noted that all conversion work, brackets, gantries, wiring looms etc were constructed using assembly line procedures which utilised existing labour to best advantage. All materials were sourced and purchased en masse, allowing the Brigade to negotiate special terms and discounts.

In addition to this project and on the back of its success, Brigade Workshops has embarked on a new project of building vehicles to the requirements of Rescue and Fire Fighting Category 1 for Airport use.

The concept and quality of build of these vehicles has generated numerous enquiries from a wide range of potential users both at home and abroad in industry and domestic fire cover. It is an excellent project for Brigade Workshops and is proving very cost effective, adding a new dimension to our services and creating interest with added satisfaction to all concerned.

The technical details are set out in the following paragraphs and any further particulars may be obtained by contacting Mr. Murray J MacKay, Brigade Engineer, telephone (01463) 715151.


Technical Specification



LDV 400 3,500 Kg Van



Diesel Engine 2500

4 cyl. in line, O.H.V. Turbocharged

Power - 96.5 PS @ 4150 RPM

Max. Torque 209 Nm @ 2000 RPM



5 Speed synchromesh



Front and Rear single taper leaf springs and telescopic hydraulic dampers

Front and Rear anti-roll bars



Divided hydraulic servo assisted with discs at front.

Plastic-coated corrosion-resistant brake pipes.

Front disc diameter: 276 mm

Rear drum diameter: 254 mm



12 Volt negative earth return system

Battery capacity - 60 Ah

Alternator - 65 amp



185 x 14 6 Ply commercial radial



Worm and recirculating ball


Fuel Capacity

70 Litres



Wheelbase - 3200 mm

Overall length - 5450 mm

Overall width - 2020 mm

Overall Height - 2750 mm


Equipment Carried

1              Tait Radio

1              Magnetic Flood Lamp

1              Tool Kit

1              Service Book and Owner Manual

1              First Aid Kit

4              BA Sets c/w Facemasks and bags

4              Spare BA Cylinders

1              Jack

1              Handle

1              6Kg Dry Powder Extinguisher

1              9 Litre AFFF Extinguisher

1              10 Litre Petrol Tin

1              Spout

1              Honda/Clarke 2” Pump

1              Single Outlet Standpipe

1              Key and Bar

2              V16 Branches

1              Coopers Spray

1              2” Suction Strainer

1              2” Suction Adaptor

2              2” Suction Spanners

1              4” Round Thread to Male inst.

1              Dividing Breeching

1              4” Collecting Head

1              Canvas Bucket

2              Torches

1              Stirrup Pump c/w Rose

1              Set Chimney Rods

1              Shovel

1              Axe

1              Crow Bar

1              Fire Blanket

1              Pr Fire Gloves

1              Basket Strainer

1              4” Metal Strainer

1              Magnetic Floodlight

1              4” Blank Cap

1              Hose Reel Branch

1              Clan Lukas Combi Tool

1              Clan Lukas Hand Pump

2              4” Universal Suction Wrenches

1              Hearth Kit

1              pair Armoured Gloves

1              pair Armoured Gloves

8              Lengths 45mm Hose

4              Lengths 70mm Hose

3              10’ Lengths 4” Suction

2              10’ Lengths 2” Suction

1              Folding Roof Ladder

1              3 Section Alloy Ladder



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