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Apprentices get fire engine ready for museum

Essex Fire Museum, based in Grays, has added another classic fire engine to its collection with the acquisition of a 1994 Dennis Rapier.

The appliance spent the first two years of its working life at Waltham Abbey Fire station before it was moved to Great Dunmow where it was on the run until 2004.

By November 2012, the appliance had fallen into complete disrepair and was rotting at the back of Fleet Workshop’s Lexden car park until apprentices Jake Robertson and Carl Stevens began a six months project to completely overhaul it.

In that time, the two 20 year-olds turned it from a heap sprouting plants into a fully functioning fire engine repaired to operational standard as part of the work towards their NVQ HGV.

Roger Pickett, assistant museum curator, said: “This is the most modern appliance we have at the Museum, but it is still 19 years old.

“They are a rare appliance – we only had seven in Essex – but they are fondly remembered. Anyone who has been behind the wheel will remember the experience. They were a pleasure to drive.

“They were light and fast and gripped the road like nothing else. We had two of them here in Grays and I used to love to drive the Rapier.

“As soon as this one became available, I knew that we had to preserve it. This is the only machine of this kind which is not in a private collection. Once I had the idea to preserve it, the Service stepped in and made sure that it became part of the Museum’s collection.

“It has been restored to be fully operational, but it is not an operational appliance and will never attend another incident. Instead we hope to use it as an educational vehicle taking it to schools to deliver fire safety messages and show children the changes which have taken place in fire appliance and fire fighting technology over the years.”

Roger and the rest of the Fire Museum team collected the appliance from Service Workshops on Wednesday May 22.

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