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1994 Dennis Rapier Water Tender Ladder.
Fire Engine Photos
No: 18176   Contributor: Pete Matten   Year: 1994   Manufacturer: Dennis   Country: United Kingdom
1994 Dennis Rapier Water Tender Ladder.

This photograph shows a 1994 Dennis/JDC TF202 water tender ladder when first delivered to the West Sussex Fire Brigade which would be allocated to Bognor Regis Fire Station.
The appliance was from the second batch of Dennis Rapiers delivered to the brigade,the first being in 1992 and shows the old livery of the fire appliances during that time.
The photo was taken in 1994 at the Hickstead All England Showground in West Sussex at Fire Show 94,a Fire Show put on by the West Sussex Fire Brigade.
Calvin Fox has just put on the site a picture of the appliance today nearing its end of service(picture 18117),so I though why not show the appliance when new from the past-1994.
Picture added on 08 July 2009 at 16:24
add commentComments:
What were the Rapiers like ? i heard they were very fast but tended to wallow in corners at speed, i know Humberside bought them for years and changed to Scania and a few MAN there now too .

Added by John Johnstone on 08 July 2009.
I've never heard of a bad Dennis,and in my honest opinion I found to drive one of these Dennis Rapiers it was just brilliant.They were fast,but handled very well at speed.I felt comfortable whether I was driving to the shout,or sitting in the back as a member of the crew.

Added by Pete Matten on 08 July 2009.
Cheers for that Pete, i thought i remembered that Humberside said they were very good but tended to wallow too much and that's why other brigades stopped buying them, sadly never seen one at speed, but i thought a Dennis would be good at handlng as the are one of the best fire appliances !

Added by John Johnstone on 09 July 2009.
John, just to second Petes comments, I drove and rode one for six years and next to the petrol TK was the best handling machine ever. Whether on A roads, motorway or small rural roads, well balanced, cornered like a Ferrari and acceleration was amazing, I could go on but I have got a big smile on my face remembering...

Added by John Stott on 09 July 2009.
"Wallow in the corners"?! I can only assume that John never saw the factory Rapier display team doing handbrake turns and throwing them around as if they were go-karts. I have only driven a Rapier once and this was at Wroughton Airfield at the Dennis Centenary celebrations. We were encouraged to drive into the corners as fast as possible and to brake only when you thought you were going to die. Needless to say all that happened was a terrible screaming from the rear wheels as they hung on for grip and going away with a memory that you will never forget. I hope that a regular contributor to this site who was with Humberside FB for 30 years will contribute his thoughts on Rapier handling....

Added by Barry on 09 July 2009.
Hi Barry its that ex Humberside Firefighter you speak of ! Yes the Rapiers are fantastic appliances and I believe the main reason other brigades stopped buying them was because they felt they could not carry enough kit - personally I feel appliances sometimes carry too much kit ! As Pete says 'you felt part of the machine'when driving a Rapier! other apliances such as Scania which Humberside later took I always felt 'I was sat on top of it' when driving it, I only ever had one 'scary moment 'with a Rapier when it 'skipped a little' after getting a wheel on a solid white line on the road but it settled down again, the handling was superb - the acceleration phenomenal - easily 95mph + on the motorways and the confidence you could gain from these machines was unsurpassed ! On one of my EFADs courses you had to drive through tight cones on an airfield at 35mph without taking your foot of the accelerator both in the dry and in the wet ! it does'nt sound very fast but the cones were extremely close and I enjoyed it so much I asked the instructor if I could have some 'extra goes' to which he agreed - we also had to accelerate to 50mph then turn hard right (full lock) and do an emergency stop ! UNBELIEVEABLE !

My son Mark also drove a couple of Rapiers privatly with me and he could'nt wipe the smile off his face for days !
The downside with the Rapier was parts supply - a standard Dennis problem and Scania were offering such deals to get into the English brigades that Dennis could'nt match them.

Finally the Scanias looked very nice, but were a pig to wash - too many nooks and crannys and the MAN's ? well a bit early to judge yet except one would'nt fit into the station to which it was allocated ! oops ! new front to the station to allow it to fit DOH !

Here endeth the sales pitch for the Dennis Rapier !

Added by Rick Loudon on 09 July 2009.
Thanks for the replies John and Barry, maybe the driver i spoke to for whatever reason didn't like them and now they have Scania's hehe !

Saw a vid on Youtube Barry of a Dennis doing an amazing handbrake turn but only a rear view so not sure if Rapier or Sabre, either way seemed very impressive indeed ! thanks again gents !

Added by John Johnstone on 09 July 2009.
on the subject of 'old' Dennis appliances, I helped collect one from london and take it down to tilbury docks for onward transport to Argentina. It was an ex-NIFS SS pump ( sadly had been repainted black ) but she ran sweet likes and could still turn a bit of speed!. something to be said about the dennis machines and their perkins engines.

Added by Stevie Murray on 09 July 2009.
Rick, I preferred the Sabre to be honest but I think the Rapier has to be one of the best machines ever for handling. With a view to Scania and Man handling, its been said time and time again on this site, they are not fire engines. Theres a problem with them that wont go away and that is, a commercial "one size fits all" chassis, engine and coachwork including equipment fit. Too much is being asked of these brands and they dont perform. They are cheap and cheerful and wont last the course. End of rant!

Added by John Stott on 10 July 2009.
Here here Mr John Stott !

Added by John Johnstone on 10 July 2009.
guys its what happen now onwards as the rapiers are fading out and the scanias coming in ( they dont fit some of the rural station ) so whats going to happen 1/ buy a truck and build it to the station or knock the station down and rebuild it bigger for the appilance - both to me are to expensive at least all dennis s fitted

Added by Calvin Fox on 10 July 2009.
The money their saving by buying Scania's is proberly going towards the cost of building the new fire station at Crawley which has just got the go-ahead.Many rural stations though like Turner's Hill,Billinghurst,Hurstpierpoint and
Keymer,etc will have problems.Makes you wonder what lies ahead?.Either way,its the rate payers who have to cough up.

Added by Pete Matten on 11 July 2009.
Calvin, if the Audit Commision get in on this they will have a field day, its not best use of public money to entail building costs because of appliance size. some brigades will turn round and use it as an excuse to close retained stations, and have tried. when its costed out over a twenty year period we will all be proved right.

Added by John Stott on 11 July 2009.
I am in South Africa and am looking to buy parts for the fire engine. For now I am looking for rear hub seals. Its a Dennis Rapier

Added by Ivor Johannes on 17 June 2016.
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