“Anyone want to buy an old Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire fire engine? No? In that case we’ll send them to developing countries”

Fire chiefs have agreed to give any usable fire engines that they cannot sell to developing countries.

A meeting today (Wednesday) was told that the market for old fire engines has collapsed and gleaming red trucks bought for a cool £250,000 are now barely worth £5,000, if they sell at all.

A fire engine

A fire engine

“We recently had three Volvo fire trucks that we bought 15-20 years old on the market,” said Mark Hemmings, the Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority’s director of finance and assets.

“But we have got one that we just can’t sell. It could be put to good use elsewhere.”

Surplus fire service stock from Bucks is sold through an auction website run by the brigade in Essex, the meeting heard. The two most recent sales have scored between £4,000 and £5,000 to be used in the authority’s capital budget.

But rather than have old equipment that cannot be sold rusting away in the service’s limited workshop space, the fire authority has decided to give them to a charity called Fire Aid.

Based in Crowborough, East Sussex, Fire Aid has received 200 fire appliances, six ambulances, and 10 in-shore water rescue boats during its time.

Cllr Stephen Lambert, (Lib Dem, Aylesbury West) said he thought it was “heartbreaking” that fire engines bought for hundreds of thousands of pounds were only worth “£8” now because of depreciation of their value.

But he thought that Fire Aid is an interesting charity which sends old equipment to 50 countries around the world and supported a move to change the authority’s standing order for contracts to allow it to be done.

Mr Hemming said the duty of the fire authority remained to achieve a best return for its sold assets.