Rapid response: Cadent wheels out bespoke new van to take command in a crisis

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  • Cadent’s new bespoke rapid response Incident Support Unit (ISU) enters service
  • The new vehicle is a mini command centre on wheels capable of being rapidly deployed to gas related incidents fast
  • Vehicle called out to assist in major operation to restore gas supply to hundreds of homes only hours after it was delivered 
    Emergency gas service Cadent has added a formidable new vehicle to its inventory – a
    highly mobile specially developed mini command centre on wheels.
    When a gas related incident – such as a major loss of gas supply – occurs, time is of the
    the essence as the sooner an incident can be effectively managed, the sooner it can be
    de-escalated and resolved.
    Cadent’s East Anglia Emergency team have worked with Cadent’s Fleet Team and suppliers Bri-Stor to develop the new bespoke Incident Support Unit (ISU) which was bought into service this autumn.
    A specially adapted VW Crafter Van, the new ISU is packed with extras which enable it to act as a rapid response mini mobile command centre. Features of the new vehicle include:
  • Road legal seating for four in the rear of the van along with a desk
  • An internal 240v power supply, wi-fi, stationary and printing facilities
  • A wall mounted whiteboard to assist with incident planning and command and control
  • Ample storage space for emergency equipment such as cones, fire extinguishers as well as electrical heaters and hot plates for vulnerable residents in the event of disruption to the gas supply 
    Emergency services in the UK operate a Gold, Silver and Bronze command structure to
    respond to major incidents, with Bronze being the element at the scene of the incident.
    The ISU has all it needs to enable Cadent’s Bronze element in a major incident to
    effectively plan, operate and communicate from site and is therefore an immensely
    valuable addition the Cadent fleet.
    The vehicle weighs in at 3.5 tonnes which means it can be driven by anyone with a driving licence.
    The ISU proved its mettle just hours after it was delivered, when it was despatched to assist with a major operation to restore gas supplies to hundreds of homes in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, after a burst water main flooded the local gas network.
    It worked alongside Cadent’s much larger, Mobile Command Unit (MCU), a 7.5 tonne truck, deployed from its base location near Birmingham to large scale incidents. While the MCU provided a base of operations for engineers, the ISU provided a mobile point of contact and assistance for affected customers in the town.
    Cadent Technical Specialist Matt Kitchin, who came up with the concept, said: “The ISU is a real gamechanger in the way we handle incidents enabling us to get to the heart of an incident and have a command and control facility set up faster than ever before.
    “In large scale incidents such as Wirksworth it complements the work of the MCU very well and it can also be used as a standalone mini mobile command centre, including at smaller scale incidents where the MCU may not be deployed.”
    He added: “A customer’s perception of Cadent is dramatically changed when the gas stops flowing. They want assurance that we are doing all we can to resolve the incident. Our ISU is a clear commitment to them and allows us greater flexibility in the way we respond to incidents.’
Director of East of England Darren Elsom, said: “I was very pleased that we were able to put the ISU to use just hours after delivery. It performed admirably and was a real asset to the major operation we carried out to restore gas supplies to hundreds of homes impacted after a burst water main flooded the local gas network.”
He added: “Cadent promotes a culture of thinking outside the box and the ISU is a great example of how innovation both improves customer experience and our ability to operate alongside other agencies.”
The ISU will operate across Cadent’s East Network which includes both the East Midlands and East Anglia with the potential for the concept to be expanded to Cadent’s other networks and other utilities.


Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

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