HAMPSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service is hoping to save more than £80,000 a year by sending Land Rovers to tackle small rural fires.
Officers are regularly called to bin, grass or rubbish fires in places such as Havant Thicket and Purbrook Heath.
Under the current fire service policy, one fire engine must be sent as a minimum to every blaze.
That means five or six personnel are fighting a small fire that can be put out within minutes.
In a report by chief officer Andy Bower to the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Performance Review and Scrutiny Committee, he says a trial at three retained fire stations last year – Waterlooville, Fleet and Ringwood – was a success.
In the latest figures available, excluding Portsmouth and Southampton, there were 1,954 small fires across the county between April 2010 and March 2011.
If they had all been attended by a Land Rover, rather than major appliances, a saving of £83,000 would have been made.
The report states: ‘Many fires in rural areas are small and pose limited risk. Most of these small fires in the open can be dealt with using limited water, equipment, and personnel and do not need a major appliance with a crew of five or six.’
He added: ‘Most small fires do not need the same number of firefighters or the same scale of equipment as needed at a major fire.
By better matching our resources to the type of incident we will make sure that major appliances are immediately available for larger, life-threatening incidents and are not tied up with smaller, less serious events.’
Most rural patches are covered by retained firefighters paid for each call out they make. By cutting that number by two thirds each call-out will only cost £30 an hour.
The only problems that arose were down to the rota and which crew members will man the Land Rovers.
The fire service has 18 Land Rovers and following the committee’s approval of the recommendations last month, there will be a review of which stations they are based at.
Because Portsmouth and Southampton are unitary urban authorities they were not included in the trial.