Greater Manchester fire service celebrates 20 years of Volvo innovation25 March 2011

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and Volvo dealer Thomas Hardie Commercials are celebrating 20 years of partnership.

The Manchester fire sevice fleet is now 100% Volvo, with trucks including an FL-based urban search and rescue unit and a 60 tonne gtw FM-380 Euro-5 compliant recovery vehicle, with bodywork built by the brigade's technical service centre.

GMF&RS head of engineering and technical services John Collier says that the service currently operates 123 Volvo trucks, having purchased 172 since starting with Thomas Hardie Commercials in February 1991.

"This relationship is based on commercial merit and Thomas Hardie and Volvo Trucks have to compete in a straight fight with other manufacturers and dealers for each and every slice of our business," comments Collier.

"Although we specify a pretty standard Volvo FL product for our appliances, Thomas Hardie Commercials have always been very supportive in terms of technical advice and parts supply," he adds. "We do our maintenance in-house and Thomas Hardie maintains an imprest stock of parts at our technical service centre at Leigh."

Collier cites Volvo's ability to offer the Allison World series automatic transmission in the FL, coupled to the accessibility of Thomas Hardie dealerships in the Greater Manchester region as two more reasons for 20 years of Volvo trucks

"The Allison World Series transmission in its Volvo FL installation has proved to be the benchmark and, at this time, we have never had one fail," he says.

"From an engineering point of view, we can also say that Volvo has delivered good performance. For example, we were able to operate an FL10 for eight years, without it being necessary to reline the brakes. That's one reason we always use genuine Volvo parts."

Beyond that, Collier cites Thomas Hardie's workshop technician training and its Volvo Tech Tool computerised vehicle diagnostics system: "We have two Tech Tool installations in the field and one at the Fleet workshop in Leigh."

And on bodywork, he singles out the innovative use of polypropylene plastics, manufactured by Strongs Plastic Products of Tamworth, with final assembly completed by John Dennis of Guildford.

Collier states that this alone has saved 750kg, compared to traditional alloy and steel construction – with corresponding improvements in operating costs, including fuel usage.

As a result of the plastic bodywork, kerb weight of the Volvo FL pump appliance, including a crew of five and a full payload of 1,800 litres of water and equipment is only 11.75 tonnes.

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Thomas Hardy Burtonwood Ltd
Volvo Group UK Ltd

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