FIREMEN at Tadcaster - from left, Tony Sorby, Richard Turnbull, Steve Newton (in cab), Bob Hoskins and John Conder - with the new "heavyweight" tender that will slash the time it takes to free trapped road accident victims.

The £200,000 super appliance boasts the latest heavy-duty hydraulic cutting gear, including a Stihl saw, and air bags that will lift weights up to 60 tonnes, compared to the present 25 tonnes.

Also on board are a decontamination unit for use in chemical spillages, as well as rescue boats, dry suits and life jackets for river and canal incidents. The hi-tech emergency tender will cover the southern end of North Yorkshire, almost up to Boroughbridge, including York, Tadcaster and Selby.

Sub-officer Hoskins said: "We will be able to respond better and quicker to road accidents, especially involving heavy goods vehicles on roads such as the A1, A64 and A19."

Updated: 11:00 Wednesday, April 23, 2003