215 jobs face axe in Hampshire’s fire service

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MORE than 200 firefighters could lose their jobs as part of a shake-up by the county service.

There would also be changes to the numbers and types of fire service vehicles but no fire stations would close.

Over the past 18 months, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has been working on a plan to help bridge a funding shortfall of £12.2m over the next four financial years.

A project called Risk Review has looked at how all 51 stations across the county are staffed, the vehicles used and the number of callouts throughout the day and night.

With this in mind, plans have been drawn up to help the service save up to £5m with £3.5m of that coming from front-line savings.

Under these proposals Havant, Fareham, Gosport, Waterlooville, Hayling Island, Wickham, Cosham, Southsea, Horndean, Emsworth, Portchester, Petersfield and Bishop’s Waltham would all be affected.

This will be a combination of having what the force calls an upgrade in vehicles, where some will be smaller and better equipped but will need fewer staff.

More staff will be on call rather than based at the stations full-time.

The number of full-time firefighters would fall from 576 to 488 and retained crew would drop to 519 from 656.

Neil Odin, deputy chief fire officer, said: ‘Over the last 10 years we have seen a 52 per cent reduction in the number of calls we are getting.

‘This is due to better regulation and training.

‘I am fully committed to keeping my staff safe and the community safe, and these plans have this in mind.

‘We have been listening to staff and want to listen to the community on these plans.’

As well as making savings, the service said it is also looking at different ways to make money.

This includes acting as landlords to South Central Ambulance and Hampshire Constabulary to share property, make more use of its trading arm and use its fleet maintenance service for other emergency services.

Next week at a Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, the board will look at the options to see if they are acceptable to go out for a three-month consultation.

If approved the consultation will start on Monday, September 14, and run until December.