May 2011, myself, my brother Chris, Dad Derek and Uncle Warren, spent a week in the old Hoover building turning a Volvo 460 into a fire engine.
in the 2 weeks prior to the filming we received the task and the rules which were, the pump had to be powered by the same engine that powered the drive, we were limited to 400 litres of water, there were other rules but memory escapes me.
We had a couple of calls from the technical crew and a visit from the director, each time we were told not to build anything but to have things ready to fabricate on the show. We were told at first to not bring a car that worked and then that changed (when the director came to see us) that it would look better on TV if we had a complete car and it came apart on site, so on that we did.
All we cut the frame work for our tank, and the brackets for the pump.
5am on the Monday a flat bed arrived and loaded the car and our parts on the back and off we went.
When we arrived it was clear the other team had been given different instructions as they arrived with most of the parts premade and they're car in bits, pretty much the opposite of what we had been told. We met the R&R boys who were fantastic, we went back to hotel only to receive a phone call asking us to go back.
When we arrived the producer told use to take the car apart, we had a heated discussion about what we had been told we took a few panels off the front wheels and the radiator out. Miffed and tired we went back to the hotel and discussed the plan for the next day.
Day 2 we arrived at 8 to get the prefilming done before we actually got started, 3-4 hours later we had given our life stories down the camera we were ready to finally start the build, Ben set us off and we got going, Derek went and machined the shaft that would drive the pump, Warren re built the engine and put the wheels back on, I welded the tank up and Chris cut the back of the car out.
2 hours later we had to stop for lunch, at this point the car was stripped, the frame work for the tank was done, and the parts for the pump were done and we were certain we would be done within the first day, how wrong we were.
We chatted with R&R over lunch to find they were in a similar situation I spoke to Mark and Foxy about the difference in the orders we received from the production team.
Lunch done and back to work, when we got back Warren stopped me and mentioned about the tank being too low, hearing this Mick (one of the technical crew) came over and told me it would need to move, I insisted it would be fine so long as we didnt use all the water in the tank before it drew air in, best part of 20 mins later and no work being done on the car I had to consed and we started to make the parts to fit it to the roof, while this was going on, Derek was ready to fit the pump so we had to see which way the power steering pump was running I said (incorrectly) it needed to go near side of the car (this would come back to bite me later) so while Chris and I finished the tank Warren and Derek fitted the pump. Having done barely 6 hours work the time was up. Time to go back to the hotel.
Day 3, 8am and we were ready to start again, 2 hours later we were allowed to get back to work, Chris went back to finishing the tank and making the bits to fit it to the car. I started making the boom and Warren and Derek started making the pump fit and running the first set of hoses. Before Lunch we had the tank fitted, the pump mounted and valve block ready, simply had to fit the valve block run the last hoses and we were good to test. last bits seemingly done we went to test, to give the silicon time to set in the tank we put the water directly into the pump, as soon as we did the back of the pump started to leak, we stopped and took the car back to the workshop and found the O ring was not in the pump, 20 mins later we were back in to test, O ring fitted and ready to go again, fired it up and.... nothing, the pump was the wrong way round back to the workshop again....
with 2 hours left (not half a day like was said in the show) we had to strip the pump off again and turn it round, which meant building a new bracket to mount it too, I then had to build a head for the boom so we could change the angle of attack on the fire, unknown to me, while I was doing this the tech crew were helping Derek and Warren refit the pump, unknown because I was 30ft away making parts I didn't know they had been physically fitting bits to the car until I saw the show for a 2nd time until then I was sure they had only advised.
They called time with the pump remounted but no hoses fitted, and no safety parts fitted (this was always going to be done on the 4th day) tired and emotional, we went back to the hotel for the last time.
Day 4 8am we arrived and connected the hoses and went directly to testing, and boom it worked! at 1500 rpm we had a spray that looked phenomenal, back to the workshop to chat to the R&R boys, who were buoyant and chatty as usual, long chat later we helped the tech guys fit the cage over the pump and the bars on the back, then we added some paint and were ready to go, hour or so later last bits of filming done we loaded the car to the transporter and headed to Tewkesbury to see the family.
Flying visit done we all went to Morton in the Marsh fire training college, we parked up, unpacked, showered then went to have dinner in town, long chat about things, I wanted to take the boom out of the mount so we could have some more reach but the rest disagreed (turned out to be the right choice) we headed back and while the others went to bed I went and had a beer with the R&R boys, laughs and deep and meaningful chats later it was time for bed.
Day 5 7am cooked breakfast and 2 cans of Relentless later (I'm powered by the stuff) we got fitted for the fire gear and had the safety briefing. pre challenge filming and the R&R boys got to go first, we had to hide behind the nearest building and we weren't allowed to watch, we got the call about 20 mins later to head down and get ready for our run. Revved up and ready to go, Ben Waved us off and we pondered off round the car and down to the first fire (there was an imposed 20mph speed limit, which the R&R boys ignored wish we had too) got to the first fire and opened her up within seconds the first fire was down, we then drove off, forgetting the first canister Chris had to back it up (not shown on TV) so we could grab the first canister, on to the next fire and instantly a problem, having had to move the boom from its original place (the roof) we were about a foot short of the window, as I turned to the production team to quit, the car bounced and the water went in the window BINGO! bounce the car and it might work, but we had to refill the tank, we got back in a better position and got the first fire out, we hit the 2nd window but to no avail we needed more water, we bolstered up on numbers in the back and Warren came round and helped lift the boom, Warren and Derek lifted the boom and I pulled on the cables to on the nozzle to lift the and in the fire was out! Chris finally drove off and stopped 6ft short of line and I jumped off to get the last canister I dived in and over line we went.
Back to find the results, 12 second gap between the 2 times, with the cameras focused on us mainly it twigged that we had won, then Mr Shepard gave me the canister and we were through. Little filming (Gloucestershire flag safely wrapped round me, because I was convinced we had lost prior to Ben announcing us as the winners) and we were off to the 2nd area to see the final task, 2 car fires.... piece of piss! We topped up the car and went to the start line, horn goes and off we do too, screw the 20mph speed limit, turn in and in the back to the fires (hitting the barrier Astra) fire one, seemingly out in seconds on to the next one, bit of back and forth to finish the cars off and out over the back of the car and up the stairs, when we finally all assembled at the top of the building, code one 017, as I struggled with the lock I didnt notice it had already opened, as I turned it for the second combination I noticed the lock was open off with the lock, off with the chain out with the £5000 Winner!
The R&R guys were clearly unimpressed with us winning and having had support from the tech guys, but at no point in all the conversations had they complained to us or the crew until we beat them, but I can understand to appoint but they didn't bother mentioning the fact that Foxy was a reserve fireman, so in my eyes with the conflict of what to bring and in what condition, the fact that our team hadn't spent more than an hour together in about 5 years, where as R&R all work together and had the opportunity to test their parts and prebuild most parts, the fact they sped during the test and they had a reserve fireman in the team, they should not of lost! but they did, we won because our water system was much better, a water system I had worked on for hours in the run up to filming, I knew what we could do and how long it would take, problems aside we won because the plan was better, just took longer to make.... sorry about that
Next time? if there is a next time I'm in.