B383 WSK Ford Cargo 0813

B383 WSK Ford Cargo 0813

Appliance Registration Make / Model Type Current Vehicle Status
B383 WSK
Ford Cargo 0813
Graphex Tender
Undergoing Restoration

James Gunn, Senior Technical Officer Site Closure Project, Dounreay, Caithness, hands the keys for Graphex Tender B383WSK to Bob James of Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Preservation Group as fellow group members look on. One of two uniquely designed fire engines, these appliances were specially made to tackle radioactive metal fires at Dounreay’s experimental fast breed nuclear reactors.

The fire engine, known as a graphex tender, is one of only two in existence. They were designed and built to Dounreay’s specifications, to fight liquid metal coolant fires in the site’s experimental reactor’s. Each vehicle carried one tonne of graphex powder, a graphite-based fire fighting agent. With the bulk of the coolant in the prototype reactor destroyed and work now underway to destroy the coolant in the Dounreay fast reactor, the need for the bespoke fire engines has diminished.

Dounreay’s fire chief Kenny Porteous says that this is an ideal time to withdraw the tenders from service. “The tenders gave us the reassurance that we could deal with a large scale metal fire if one broke out,” he said. “However, they have now reached the end of their operational lives and can be retired to a new home.”

B383 WSK Ford Cargo 0813Brief History 1,500 tonnes of Sodium, a highly toxic, flammable and volatile substance was used as the main coolant in Dounreay’s prototype nuclear fast reactor. Because of the unusual and unique demands this type of substance generates when on fire it was subsequently decided it was a necessary to have in place 24 hours, 365 days a year dedicated fire appliances and specially trained plant firefighters. A pair of Graphex Fire Tenders (B382WSK & B383WSK) filled the fire appliance requirement, both “going on the run” in 1985, to remain the first response appliances until the fast reactor was shut down. James Gunn, Dounreay’s heritage officer commented. “These appliances were brought into service in 1985 just for tackling large sodium fires. The Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay had 1,500 tonnes of sodium as coolant. The bulk of the sodium is now destroyed and they are no longer needed. Thankfully the tenders were never required to be used!” Two standard Ford Cargo truck chassis & cabs were adapted to carry two vertical storage vessels, each containing commercially available Graphex powder (graphite based), pressurisation cylinders and equipment lockers.

On Saturday December 12th 2009, a five-man team from the “Group”, travelled to Watten, near Wick and then on to collect the appliance from Dounreay. Our guy’s on the scene were David Adam, Edward Gray,William Gordon, David Mcausland and Bob James. The following day the appliance was given the once over by our Fleet Engineer David Mcausland, before our happy band of travellers set off back home with our latest vehicle. The appliance arrived safely at our Storage Facility where it will lavished with some TLC before taking to the event’s scene in 2010. I am told that the appliance performed superbly on the long trip home. Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Preservation Group wishes to offer our sincere thanks to Strathclyde Fire & Rescue for providing the transport and once again our sincere thanks to Dounreay for this superb donation to our fleet.

Appliance Details: Type: Ford Cargo 0813 — 2-man tilt cab, medium wheelbase chassis with double back wheels. Year: 1985 Registration Number: B383WSK Length: 7.8m Width: 2.8m inc. mirrors (2.3m without) Height: 3.1m Engine: 6L non-turbo Gearbox: Manual 4-speed Brakes: Air over hydraulic brakes Electrical System: 12 volt.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Museum
and Heritage Centre
The Old Fire Station Dalrymple Street
PA15 1LY


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