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Fire Service Preservation Group

Preserving Fire Service History for over 50 years

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This Dennis Rapier MK2 Series 4 was part of a batch of 27 ordered by Kent Fire Brigade. M886 OKE was first registered in March 1995 and given fleet number 146, the appliance was then allocated to E80 Canterbury and was place on the run as a rescue water tender ladder with call sign 801. The Vehicle was then converted to a water tender and allocated to N84 Faversham as their retained Appliance with call sign 842. The Rapier then was replaced by a Dennis sabre at Faversham, the vehicle was then disposed of in October 2009 and sold to Kemsley Paper Mill in Sittingbourne Kent. It was then used as an onsite fire engine. The Rapier was then involved in an accident on site with a solid bollard whist driver training and badly damaged to the nearside front corner and wheel and the steering. They decided not to repair it.

It sat in a corner of a yard for about 2 years untouched. In October 2018 I purchased the fire engine after hearing it was going to be cut up and scrapped. After a visit and I returned with a recovery truck and had it delivered to my place of work.

Parts were sourced to repair the damage. I found another Kent rapier in a breakers yard after a phone call I went to collect a van load of parts. Working on it after work and weekends I stripped the front down and repaired all the damage. I then started on getting it running a new pair of batteries and first flick of the switch it fired into life. I then drove it around the yard and all was good with the engine and gearbox. Next task was to clean off all the solid paper which was stuck over the entire underside of the appliance which took ages scraping and steam cleaning the underside I finally ended up with a large pile of congealed paper. I then decided that I would then have the vehicle resprayed as there was quite a few scratches and damage to the body and cab and some of the old stickers had peeled the paint off various places. The cab was stripped and the panels removed and repainted.

The panels were refitted and the last parts of the cab which couldn’t be removed were repainted along with the wheels. The vehicle was then re-striped back to how it was when it left the Dennis factory and Kent fire brigade stickers where fitted.

After a few more trips to the breakers to get various trays, brackets and other parts for the cab and body to replace broken or missing bits the vehicle is almost back to how she left the Dennis factory.

The Rapier is fully a functioning appliance and pumps water very well, everything works as it should including the front mounted winch.

I’m now in the process of getting the correct Kent Fire Brigade equipment to fill the lockers.

Adam White