VIDEO: Stepping up from Ford Ka to drive fire engine - Cambs fire lets our reporter test drive new machine

11:11 05 March 2014

Ladies Driving Challenge Day, at Alconbury Airfield. Hunts Post Reporter Lauren Nash gives it a go, with Fire Fighter Kev Partridge.

Ladies Driving Challenge Day, at Alconbury Airfield. Hunts Post Reporter Lauren Nash gives it a go, with Fire Fighter Kev Partridge.

Archant

As the proud owner of a Ford Ka, there couldn’t be a more different driving experience than getting behind the wheel of a fire engine.

Ladies Driving Challenge Day, at Alconbury Airfield. Hunts Post Reporter Lauren Nash gives it a go, with Fire Fighter Kev Partridge.Ladies Driving Challenge Day, at Alconbury Airfield. Hunts Post Reporter Lauren Nash gives it a go, with Fire Fighter Kev Partridge.

But I got a taste for the job after training with the on-call firefighters in Huntingdon back in January, crawling through tunnels, tackling imaginary fires and cutting off car doors.

Then I was just a passenger – this time it was for real.

Station commander and Fire Fighters Charity Representative Martin Ockenden and Kev Partridge, a firefighter at Huntingdon fire station, met me at Alconbury Weald where, after a quick run-through, I hopped into the hot seat.

It didn’t exactly go smoothly, though. It took a good few tries for me to release the handbrake. In my defence, Kev did tell me to push it up, when what he really meant was pull it towards me…

Ladies Driving Challenge Day, at Alconbury Airfield. Hunts Post Reporter Lauren Nash gives it a go, with Martin OckendenLadies Driving Challenge Day, at Alconbury Airfield. Hunts Post Reporter Lauren Nash gives it a go, with Martin Ockenden

After that minor setback we were off, and I put my foot flat to the floor to get the beast up to speed. It was an incredible feeling to be sitting so high up, surveying the vast expanse of the Alconbury airfield runway.

I managed to get it up to 70mph before spinning around and doing a few more laps of the track.

When Kev told me to do a bit of slalom, I did feel sorry for our photographer, Helen, who was thrown around on the back seat.

When I brought the engine to a jerky stop, I almost caused a diplomatic crisis. As someone who has only ever driven a manual, it’s second nature for me to depress the clutch. The only problem is that in a fire engine, the left-side pedal doesn’t operate the clutch … it starts the siren.

Kev and I then had to frantically try to stop the noise before anyone of the workers in the neighbouring buildings complained. If it did bother anyone, I’m very sorry – it comes with the territory of being a novice.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience. I’d encourage any other women out there who are thinking of getting involved in the Ladies Driving Challenge to have a go.

On the day, you’ll be able to drive not only fire engines but arctic lorries, tractors and plenty of other super-sized vehicles.

The event will raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity which provides support, rehabilitation and care for fire service personnel across the country.

Martin said: “This is the chance for women to get behind the wheel of some weird and wonderful vehicles in a safe environment, which they would never usually be able to drive on the road. Last year we raised £25,000 and this year we’d love to hit the £30,000 mark. It’s always a great success and it seems whatever the weather – and however strange and gigantic the vehicles are – the ladies always have a good time.”

INFORMATION: The event is on Sunday, May 11, but spaces are limited to 300. Registration costs £10, with a minimum sponsorship of £90.

The fire service also want businesses to come forward and hand over their vehicles for the day. For more information and to register, call 01234 845130 or email ldc@bedsfire.com.

0 comments

24 minutes ago
Huntingdon Fire Station 50th Anniversary, (l-r) Adam Smith, and Max Smith, from Camborne, with some of the old fire hemets,

Generations of firefighters returned to Huntingdon Fire Station on Friday (February 20) to mark its 50th anniversary. Hywel Barrett spoke to one of the first crews to operate at the Hartford Road station.

Yesterday, 16:41
Rev Stephen Talbot.

A former police chaplain has been jailed for 15 months after he pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children.

Yesterday, 15:53
Dragon Theo Paphitis, centre, with The Original Olive Oil Company owners Rob Marsden and Pam Pantazi.

Two Huntingdonshire companies have received recognition from one of the UK’s leading small business champions.

Yesterday, 11:28
Firefighter using cutters to cut up car

Firefighters had to free a casualty following an accident involving two vehicles yesterday (Thursday) morning.

”Calendar"/

Most read stories

Most commented stories

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hunts Post e-edition today E-edition