FIREFIGHTERS in Cambridgeshire are being given a new piece of kit that will help them in their life-saving duties.

FIREFIGHTERS in Cambridgeshire are being given a new piece of kit that will help them in their life-saving duties.

The new device, called Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs), are being fitted in fire engines across the county and will ensure firefighters have vital information at their fingertips.

The MDTs can find key details about a fire, such as the location of the nearest fire hydrant, a commercial property's floor plan, details of chemicals kept at a warehouse, and the quickest access point to the blaze.

It will also speed up the rescue of casualties from a road accident - saving vital minutes that could mean the difference between life and death. The devices show firefighters exactly where to cut a particular vehicle to help free people who are trapped, with diagrams showing where the airbags, seat belt mechanism and other safety features are located.

MDTs have been fitted to all 63 of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service's frontline fire engines next to the front passenger seat where the most senior officer sits.

Experts are in no doubt that the new technology, paid for by the Government's community and local government department, will save lives.

Neil Newbury, assistant chief fire officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "When firefighters attend an emergency incident, access to quick and accurate information via the MDTs would almost certainty save lives.

"Firefighters will have all kinds of vital information, literally at their fingertips. In just a couple of seconds they can bring up the blueprints of a building to show the easiest access to a fire."

Mr Newbury added: "The MDTs also show the precise location of safety features in nearly all makes and models of cars. This enables firefighters to cut more confidently and quickly, which in turn will save lives."

Until the MDTs were installed, paper maps and other records, which had to be stored on each appliance, had to be studied by crews as the fire engine was en-route to the scene of an emergency.

In the past 12 months more than 220 people were rescued by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.