Published on Monday, 31st January 2017

 

Hampshire Fire and Rescue is one of the few parts of local government to have a clear and deliverable plan to protect services all the way to 2020 and beyond. The main strands are to merge back office functions with Hampshire County Council, to share offices with the police and to introduce new technology into fire fighting and to reduce staff numbers where it is save to do so. 

 

In this area, that will involve the introduction of some nimble vehicles, better adapted for city streets and will involve no longer having an extra crew for the aerial ladder platform. That latter change has been used by the Liberal Democrats to try and scare people, both last year when these changes were agreed and now. It is important to set the record straight:

 

• The aerial ladder platform can reach about 7 storeys. It is NOT used for high rise fires

• There are two other aerial ladder platforms in Hampshire and neither has its own crew. Portsmouth was an exception for political (and not operational) reasons – it was given a crew as a sop following the closure of Copnor

• Its main use is for observation after fires have been extinguished.

• Its secondary use is in factory fires, where it can be used to spray water from above

• In 2015, it was called out just 16 times

• On average, each of the eight crew (over four shifts) were called out just once every three months

• The aerial ladder platform is still at Southsea. Other firemen can man it

• When it is deployed, crews in Havant and Fareham backfill to maintain cover in Portsmouth

• The reason it was available at a recent fire in Albert Road was because it was broken down and NOT because there was no-one to man it. A vehicle from Southampton was sent and its only role was in checking the structure of the building after the fire was out.

 

The Fire Brigades Union has to argue to maintain staffing no matter what: that is its job. That the Liberal Democrats are going round trying to scare people witless for narrow political advantage is disgraceful. The reality is fire cover has never been better than it is now. The number of fires has halved in ten years and the equipment on fire engines has improved. 

 

Tags: fire