Police boats could could take firefighters to sea

' ''Sgt. Tony Birr (47) on boardthe police boat  'Preventer' ''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (123222-1337)
' ''Sgt. Tony Birr (47) on boardthe police boat 'Preventer' ''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (123222-1337)

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FIREFIGHTERS could tackle blazes on stricken ships at sea for the first time thanks to high-tech new equipment on Hampshire police’s new marine fleet.

The force’s state-of-the-art 12m catamaran Commander and patrol launch Preventer are each equipped with a steel crane structure called a davit.

This means the vessels could be used to transport firefighters and their equipment to vessels in the area which have reported blazes.

Sergeant Tony Birr from Hampshire police’s Marine Unit was one member of a three-strong team involved in the specifications for the newly-launched £1.5m fleet – which also boasts 7.9m Rigid Inflatable Boats called Protector and Pursuer.

Sgt Birr said: ‘Commander and Preventer have got a davit for lifting heavy equipment such as fire pumps.

‘It would be used for transporting firefighters to stricken ships.

‘We haven’t formalised it yet but the boats have the capability if needed.’

The new fleet – which means Hampshire and the Isle of Wight now boasts the best marine policing capability in the country – is expected to last about 15 to 20 years.

Funding has come from a £500,000 government grant, with the force footing the remainder of the bill.

Some of the £1.5m will be recouped by selling the unit’s three 12-year-old Mitchell 31 launches, which are being decommissioned.

And the 7.5m RIB Mariner is now used by police in Kenya for counter-piracy operations after being sold to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office earlier this year.

The unit hopes the new vessels will enable it to work with organisations ranging from the RNLI to the fire service UK Border and Maritime and Coastguard agencies.

Sgt Birr added: ‘Partnership working is the big thing. It’s not just about policing.’