TWO rescue services have joined forces to provide additional water, wildfire and cold weather emergency capability.

Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service and Flookburgh-based Bay Search & Rescue have teamed up to base a tracked Hagglund BV206 all-terrain vehicle at Cumbria’s new fire headquarters in Penrith.

The Hagglund can be used to carry out rescues and transport up to 18 personnel or six plus two tons of equipment in different weather conditions and on a variety of surfaces such as ice, mud, snow and water.

Originally designed for military service in the frozen wastes of Scandanavia, the Hagglund is now widely used for civilian rescue purposes, is fully amphibious and can be propelled through the water with its tracks.

Bay Search & Rescue have a number of rescue vehicles based at Flookburgh, Levens and Milnthorpe in South Lakeland, as well as Bolton-le-sands in Lancashire, so housing a vehicle in Penrith during the winter months will provide additional all terrain, flood and cold weather rescue capability in and around the North Lakes and Eden Valley.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is equipped and trained to carry out many types of rescues, but the addition of the Hagglund will provide an enhanced capacity and support.

Coun Gary Strong, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for community safety and local services, said: “The Eden area often bears the worst of the weather when snow and freezing temperatures hit Cumbria, so having the Hagglund based at our new headquarters in Penrith provides good access for the vehicle to get to the Lakes and the higher ground in the Eden Valley.

“The Fire and Rescue Service teaming up with Bay Search & Rescue is a great example of two organisations joining forces for the benefit of the people of Cumbria.”

Paul Calland from Bay Search & Rescue said: “We are very proud to be recognised by the professionals in Cumbria Fire Service and delighted to be able to provide our newest Hagglund and experienced drivers to support their operational crews once again.

“We have worked with CFRS since 2009 when we operated our Hagglund extensively in the Cockermouth floods.

“It was a revelation then what these unique vehicles can do given a chance, and as they were originally designed as personnel carriers in snow, it makes good solid sense for this one to be based near enough to be effective along the A66 area during the winter snows rather than over an hour and half away (or more in bad weather) at our coastal rescue station, which is where it would be deployed from without this joint working arrangement.”