Derbyshire fire bosses defend spending almost £300k on ‘obese’ vehicle

The Unimog.

The Unimog.

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Fire bosses have defended spending almost £300,000 on a specialist truck which is used to rescue obese people.

The Unimog U5000 vehicle, dubbed by some as ‘The Brute’, was purchased by Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) to carry out bariatric and animal rescues and supporting other emergency services.

The Unimog U5000.

The Unimog U5000.

The Mercedes Chassis model, which includes a crane, cost a total of £282,863.26.

DFRS have attended 53 incidents involving obese people since 2013, according to statistics.

A spokesman for DFRS said: “The specialist vehicle, which replaces and improves upon existing vehicles, will provide 20 years’ service allowing the service to deal with all manner of incidents and it will also help to improve firefighter safety.”

The fire service say the third generation vehicle is used primarily for large animal rescues, however its capability to lift heavy objects and travel over difficult terrain with its 4x4 wheels means it is “adapt at dealing with a wide variety of incidents.”

The Unimog has been used 25 times since January 2015, with 17 animal rescues, three bariatric rescues, four rescues of people from water and one person who was trapped.

“The vehicle is also designed to provide additional firefighter safety through the provision of its lifting and moving capability, especially during animal rescue incidents,” the DFRS spokesman added.

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) say they have used stryker stretches since 2011 to carry patients weighing up to 50 stone. The service also has six bariatric support vehicles across the region.

Steve Farnsworth, head of fleet at East Midlands Ambulance service, said: “This type of stretcher raises and lowers electrically which reduces the likelihood of staff sustaining an injury when conveying any patient in our care.”