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Service Enhances Decontamination and Environmental Protection Capabilities

The new Decontamination and Environmental Protection Unit (DEPU)

A new vehicle has been added to the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) fleet – the Decontamination and Environmental Protection Unit (DEPU).

This new vehicle is equipped to use at incidents where there is a risk to the local environment or where there is a hazard which requires our crews to operate in gas tight suits.

The Environment Agency has part funded this new vehicle, which is based at Whitley Wood Fire Station in Reading, but will be used across the county to support at incidents where there is a need to limit the exposure of hazardous materials to our firefighters, the public or the environment.

At an incident, this will be crewed by a driver and an OIC (Officer-In-Charge).

Rob Read, Group Manager for Research and Equipment said: “When responding to incidents, protecting firefighter welfare and the local environment is of paramount importance to us.

“The DEPU is a well-equipped resource that enhances our existing decontamination equipment. Thank you to the Environment Agency for providing funding for this important asset. “

Andrew Barnes, Senior Advisor in the Environment Agency’s Environment Incident Preparedness Team said “Environmental Protection Units allow a swift emergency response to serious pollution incidents which is critical in preventing serious harm to the environment. Without these vehicles with their specialist crews, we would see much more serious harm to the environment at incidents like large fires, chemical spills, and road traffic collisions. It is a pleasure to partner with Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service to expand this important capability.”

Equipment carried by the new unit

Equipment on the vehicle includes:

  • Chemical protection suits.
  • Spill containment sets (for example, absorbent pads and granules).
  • A hazardous material vacuum cleaner.
  • A peristaltic pump – used to pump clean/sterile or highly reactive fluids without exposing those fluids to contamination from exposed pump components.
  • A generator.

More information about our fleet can be found on our website.