- Successful trial sees gas emergency responders on motorbikes reach incidents in the Manchester area up to 50 per cent quicker
- Two new motorbikes will now be added to the North West fleet of the region’s gas emergency service, Cadent
- Bike team leader: “We have enough tools and equipment on the bikes to be able to safeguard life and property”
Manchester’s gas emergency service is reaching potentially life-threatening incidents up to 50 per cent faster by deploying a motorbike in peak traffic hours.
Cadent’s engineers – skilled in dealing with gas escapes that could endanger life and property – are mandated to reach uncontrolled incidents as fast as possible, but within an hour.
This is a real challenge, with often-congested traffic in a city (and neighbouring areas) that is undergoing rapid growth. Cadent’s engineers normally travel in vans and are not ‘blue light’ responders.
So, since November, a team of its ‘first call operatives’ based out of Hollinwood (and covering an area including Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, Macclesfield and Manchester city centre) have trialled a BMW R1200RT. This is the same model of motorbike used by emergency services like the police.
Delighted by the results of this trial – which have seen journey times cut by up to 50 per cent – two more motorbikes are now on order.
Cadent is the first of the UK’s four gas networks to use motorbikes in this way.
Michael Jennison, Cadent emergency supervisor and bike team leader, said: “We have enough tools and equipment on the bike to be able to safeguard life and property
“As well as the morning and evening rush hours, we can tactically deploy the bike across the city if there are large events like football games and big concerts.
“We’re really happy with the success so far. It’s proven its worth in terms of saving travel times and maintaining standards of service, but primarily safeguarding our customers’ lives and property.
“We aren’t a blue light service, so we don’t have the same liberties as the police and fire with regards to traffic moving out of the way. However, with the white helmet, the hi-vis, and the amber strobes, we have found motorists very receptive in letting us filter through, which we’re really grateful for. We’ve also been granted special dispensation from Manchester City Council to use bus lanes when we are responding to emergencies, which is enormously helpful.”
Cadent has two motorbikes in its fleet and they are both normally based in London. The bike being trialled in Manchester – the first city outside of London to use them for gas emergencies – is on loan from the London team. Now the Manchester team have two of their own on order.
Cadent responds to more than 400,000 reports of gas escapes every year, across its area of operations stretching from London to the Lake District. Only a minority turn out to be actual gas escapes, but each need checking by a qualified engineer to make sure and make safe.
The Manchester bike team currently comprises five engineers, with three more expected to join soon. Each member is required to pass enhanced rider training.
If you smell gas, or suspect carbon monoxide, call 0800 111 999*. This call will reach Cadent’s permanently-manned control centre that offers 24/7 guidance. This team will dispatch an engineer to deal with gas emergencies. Calls to this number are recorded and may be monitored.