Firefighters hope to start the conversation about organ donation in West Cumbria.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service has introduced a new fire engine which has been decorated with a distinctive purple livery to encourage people to talk about organ donation and join the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Two response cars have also been decorated with similar messages.

The engine was launched at Whitehaven Fire Station yesterday and John McVay, who is the area manager for the service, said he was excited to see it make an impact.

“The fire service now is very much focused on the community,” he said.

“What better way of putting forward a positive message is there because when people see a fire engine it gets noticed.

“It’s a positive for us, the NHS and hopefully the broader public health agenda.”

Mr McVay hopes that the partnership between the fire service and the NHS can see more health issues tackled with similar designs.

More than 208,000 people in Cumbria are registered donors and there are 44 people in the county waiting for a transplant.

Mark Holliday, clinical lead for organ donation at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, added: “The fire engine is a talking point and that’s what it’s about.

“It’s not about persuading people, it’s about getting them thinking about it.

“The two big issues are people being on the register and talking to the family about their choice.

“If you asked the public, something like 80 per cent of people would say they want to be a donor.

“There are still 6,000 people on the waiting list nationally and for those people their lives are very limited.”

From spring next year England will change to a presumed consent system for organ donation which would consider adults donors when they die unless they opt out.