Fire service ‘improving capability’

Pictured are some of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s new look vehicles which are being rolled out as part of an initiative to use new and smaller fire engines across the county.

Station manager Gina Gray with the first response vehicle due to be piloted in Alton

Station manager Gina Gray with the first response vehicle due to be piloted in Alton

A third of the traditionally-sized engines are due to be replaced by smaller and faster vehicles over the next three years, in a bid to save £450,000.

The first intermediate capability engines were trialled on the streets of Basingstoke in October, while the even more slimline first response capability vehicles are now being piloted in Alton.

Unlike the intermediate capability vehicles, the smaller engine only requires two crew members to operate it, while it also provides even better manoeuvrability on the roads – allowing on-call stations to attend incidents that they might not be able to otherwise.

Firefighters will evaluate the new engines while out on the job, while they will also be rolled out at Kingsclere Fire Station near Newbury.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service station manager Gina Gray said: “The new vehicle allows us to send an on-call crew out with two or three people, instead of being off the run if we don’t have four people available.

“Until now, a fire engine would have to be called in from further away to deal with an incident, whereas now we can attend and get to nearby incidents. This is an additional vehicle to the fleet, not a replacement, and it will improve firefighter availability at retained fire stations.”

As well as normal gear, the first response vehicle will also be equipped with new equipment, such as thermal-imaging cameras, immediate emergency care packs, and an ultra-high pressure lance.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service deputy chief officer Neil Odin expressed his confidence in the new addition to the proposed three-tier fleet of fire engines.

He said: “I am extremely pleased to see the launch of this pilot vehicle, which reflects the hard work and ingenuity of our teams, who have designed it with frontline crews.

“This is part of an array of new technology and strategies that will keep our firefighters safer, and help them deliver a faster, more effective service to the public.”

The faster vehicles and £1.5million investment in new equipment are being introduced, in a bid to deal with the loss of manpower caused by the service cutting 215 firefighting posts countywide.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Authority chairman Chris Carter added: “The rollout of these vehicles marks an exciting new chapter in the fire service’s history.

“As an authority, we are proud of our involvement and the pioneering strategies and tactics this new vehicle will support.

“The first response capability, and other initiatives, is among the reasons Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is one of the best in the country.”