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Why don't Guernsey's fire engines have licence plates?

Why don't Guernsey's fire engines have licence plates?

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Why don't Guernsey's fire engines have licence plates?

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Guernsey’s fire engines don’t have number plates and Express decided to investigate, and find out why.

Unlike most road-using vehicles, they have a special exemption. In fact, under the 1929 legislation, fire engines aren’t even considered motor vehicles at all.

Express readers’ confusion over this exemption from the usual licensing requirements sparked questions to the Guernsey Fire & Rescue Service (GFRS). 

A spokesperson said that a 94-year-old definition has remained largely untouched: “The expression motor vehicle means a vehicle propelled wholly or partially either by steam, oil, electricity or other mechanical power."

However, this specifically excluded tramcars, cranes, steam rollers and motor fire engines.

“Although there have been many amendments to that piece of legislation over the years, this definition has never been changed,” the spokesperson added. 

“As such, motor driven fire engines are exempt from being registered, so do not carry registration numbers.”


Pictured: Jersey fire engines do carry number plates. Credit: Jersey Fire & Rescue Service. 

GFRS celebrated its centenary last year. The States took control of the brigade in 1922 after it became too costly for the parish of St. Peter Port to administer alone. 

At the time, the service operated one motorised fire engine named Sarnia 1. In 1935, another vehicle was acquired, soon dubbed Sarnia 2. 

For hundreds of years, St. Peter Port operated a series of horse drawn trailers to transport water to fires, split between three fire stations.


Pictured: The Fireman Sam universe appears to follow the same licensing criteria as the Bailiwick. Credit: BBC. 

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