DIM Vehicles 

The New Dimension Programme, has delivered a Detection, Identification and Monitoring (DIM) capability, strategically located across England and Wales.

Operational aims

The aim of the DIM is to provide a capability to a major national incident, involving actual or potential chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) or hazardous materials (Hazmat). The roll-out will increase FRS capability, improve firefighter safety and enhance the service provided to the public.

DIM – vehicles and training

DIM vehicles and equipment have been procured and initial equipment training is nearing completion. A total of 18 DIM vehicles will be operationally available at strategic locations across England and Wales. Each DIM team consists of an average of 12 Hazmat officers, trained to use the full suite of equipment.  They will provide a response capability to key areas across the country in the very early stages of potential or actual CBRN and Hazmat incidents.  The DIM vehicles have been specifically designed and built to meet New Dimension and FRS requirements. Each DIM vehicle will contain:

  • a suite of detection, identification and monitoring equipment;
  • a selection of robust communication systems;
  • satellite telephones;
  • data transfer equipment;
  • battery charging facilities; and
  • an anemometer to determine local wind conditions.

Vehicle design

The DIM vehicle is based on a long wheel base high-backed van.  The front of the vehicle is a three-person crew cab, with the communications and lighting systems of a modern FRS vehicle, and additional resilience in the form of a satellite telephone system.  The middle area of the vehicle has been built to form an office environment, to provide DIM advisers with additional communications systems and a computer for analysing sample information.  The communications systems will be resilient, to enable access to scientific support for the DIM advisers in most foreseeable scenarios. This is essential to inform key operational decisions, including the development of a safe system of work for the FRS and other agencies.

Equipment on board

The rear of the vehicle forms an equipment stowage area for gas-tight suits, breathing apparatus, decontamination equipment and scene lighting. The aim is for the vehicles to be largely self-sufficient in terms of equipment. This has led to the development of a modified firefighter decontamination structure (MD4), slightly smaller in size and weight than the structure used on Incident Response Units (IRUs). The MD4 structure is capable of supporting the safe decontamination process for the operators, consistent with national procedures and protocols.

Detecting and analysing contaminants

The detection, identification and monitoring of substances is achieved by a sequential process. A suite of DIM equipment will provide the capability to detect and analyse a range of chemicals found in different forms or states, presenting a variety of different hazards. These variations present significantly different challenges that affect operational decisions and outcomes.

DIM equipment and processes are used to detect and identify gases and vapours, solids (including powders), liquids, radiological materials and biological hazards. The equipment also has the potential to assess the concentration of vapours or gases in the air. To support this process, additional equipment has been provided to monitor the operational and environmental hazards encountered during the DIM process, so that the operators can maintain a safe and effective system of work.

DIM equipment in action

DIM equipment is designed to be taken into the hazard area by the DIM adviser and a support team wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), respiratory protective equipment (RPE) and monitoring equipment.  The information obtained from the substance analysis and identification will be used to confirm:

  • appropriate PPE and RPE for responders working in hot-zone areas;
  • exposure levels and durations;
  • first aid measures;
  • inner cordon locations;
  • requirements for post-incident casualty treatment; and
  • procedures for responding agencies and the public.

               Contact Details

South Wales Fire & Rescue Service
Forest View Business Park
CF72 8LX

Tel: 01443 232000
Fax: 01443 232180

Page Last Updated on 20/9/2011