Environmental protection unit

The Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) is based at Sprowston fire station and provides specialist equipment to deal with incidents involving:

  • Hazardous materials (such as chemicals)
  • Decontamination of firefighters
  • Radiation
  • Larger incidents involving the use of breathing apparatus
  • Environmental contamination

The vehicle was previously in service as an emergency tender unit at King's Lynn station, but following the introduction of heavy rescue pumps it was reconfigured into its current role as an EPU.

It attends incidents throughout Norfolk, but may also be called upon to attend incidents out of the county.  It is supported by the rescue pump from Sprowston and one of the brigade’s Hazardous Materials and Environmental Protection Officers (HMEPOs) at all incidents it attends.

The vehicle is based on a Mercedes Econic, with an 18 tonne chassis, and carries a crew of two firefighters.

The EPU replaced a smaller chemical incident unit at Sprowston and is used in partnership with the Environment Agency.  A large proportion of the equipment on board the vehicle is provided by the Environment Agency to a national specification.  The vehicle contains:

  • An inflatable firefighter decontamination structure
  • 5,000 litre containment dam
  • Peristaltic pump
  • Chemical absorbencies
  • Hydrocarbon absorbencies
  • Overpack drums (to seal leaking containers)
  • Breathing apparatus main control board
  • A large inflatable tent (to provide a temporary work area at large incidents)
  • Gas tight chemical protection clothing
  • Containment booms
  • Radiation monitoring equipment
  • Chemical detection equipment
  • Breathing apparatus sets and an airline trolley for extended duration
  • Drain blocking equipment
  • Equipment for dealing with asbestos incidents