Emergency services hit with the cost of mis-fuelling

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Yorkshire Ambulance Service was hit with repair bills of more than £36,000 in six years – thanks to drivers accidentally filling up with the wrong fuel.

The 999 service, which operates more than 1,200 vehicles, incurred costs of £36,479 from 2009 to September 2014 because of diesel-fuelled ambulances being filled up with petrol on 176 occasions.

The problem became so bad in 2012, when repair bills topped £12,000, that bosses fitted special devices called “fuel angels” to all vehicles.

A spokeswoman for the NHS Trust said: “These devices prevent the wrong nozzle being inserted into the fuel filler neck.

“As a result, the number of instances of an incorrect fuel type being used has reduced to just 12 occurrences in 2013 and 17 occurrences up to September 2014, from a total fleet of 1,225 vehicles.”

The costs incurred by the ambulance service as a result of mis-fuelling dwarf those of both West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Fire Service.

Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post as part of our Right to Know campaign show that the county’s police force, which runs about 1,000 vans, cars and motorbikes, was landed with bills totalling £6,368 between 2009 and 2014 after 45 cases of fuelling errors.

Steve Thompson, head of transport for West Yorkshire Police, said problems were relatively few and far between but added: “To avoid this happening we have introduced measures including placing warning stickers just above fuel flaps and fitting, where possible, devices preventing the wrong fuel being used.”

While the fire brigade runs only 365 vehicles – far fewer than its 999 counterparts – there were only three instances of mis-fuelling between 2009 and 2014, resulting in repair costs of £460.

Assistant chief fire officer Dave Walton said none of the cases involved fire engines.

He said they have signage in place.

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