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VOSA Demonstrates Casualty Access Problems on Illegal Stretched Limousines
Surrey Fire Brigade chop the 2-tonne roof off an illegal Hummer stretched limousine seized by VOSA enforcement officers.
The popularity of stretched limousines is continuing to increase in the UK for hen and stag parties, school leaving celebrations and other functions. However, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) consequently has its work cut out in trying to ensure the country’s increasing fleet of such vehicles are constructed and operated in conformance to local regulations.
Almost all stretched limousines which are imported from the USA (the main source of such vehicles) do not meet UK construction and use regulations and need to undergo major and expensive modifications to make them conform. The list of such modifications include seat belt provision, turning circle, glass strength, tyres, brakes, suspension and the provision of adequate emergency exits for passengers.
It is in this last respect that VOSA recently collaborated with Surrey Fire Brigade to demonstrate the difficulty in accessing trapped passengers in such long vehicles without adequate exits. In the exercise, fire officers were able to practice their skills on a stretched Hummer limousine that had been seized by VOSA enforcement officers for not complying with UK construction and use regulations. Vehicles seized in such circumstances are normally destroyed under VOSA’s supervision.
Although the vehicle’s glass was of the correct standard, there were insufficient exits on the vehicle either for passengers to escape in an emergency or for emergency services personnel to gain access to trapped passengers. To enter the vehicle, its roof was removed, a significant challenge for the fire brigade since the 2-tonne roof could only be removed safely by using special lifting equipment, the arrival of which to an incident scene would delay reaching the casualties to an unacceptable level.
Neil Barlow, the head of enforcement at VOSA commented that the video illustrates the potential dangers of using unlicensed limousines by the British Public.
An overview of the regulations covering the construction, use and operation of both small and large limousines in the UK can be found in the VOSA guide for stretched limousine operators.
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