FIREFIGHTERS say they are ready for a ‘big fight’ to stop further cuts to the service.
Crews across the area are preparing to stand together amid suggestions that a fire engine could be removed from Southsea fire station.
They say the move would have a knock-on effect across the region and are preparing to campaign against it.
As previously reported in The News, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service needs to make £7m of cuts over four years to balance the books.
The service says no plans are in place and any proposals drawn up would be subject to public consultation.
But it is understood the removal of the fire engine – staffed by 16 firefighters over four different ‘watches’ – is one of the options most likely to be looked at.
It is unclear what would happen to the firefighters who currently staff the fire engine. Nigel McCullen, a representative for the Fire Brigades Union, said: ‘We cannot condone another cut to the fire service – that’s as a whole, not just in Portsmouth.
‘We knew this cut would be coming up. When Copnor fire station closed, we were given one appliance and Cosham got the special equipment unit.
‘We were told they wouldn’t be touched and we’re disappointed it may come to this.
‘There will be a ripple effect to stations outside Portsmouth on this.
‘For instance, if two engines from Southsea attend a job, then one from Cosham would have to cover the station.
‘The one from Fareham may have to cover Cosham if they have a call. Portsmouth is one of the most densely-populated cities in Europe – to take a fire engine away is so wrong.
‘This will be a big fight, firefighters are in agreement. We’re ready for it, and were going to be campaigning the council and the public.’
The fire service insists no plans are in place.
A spokesman said: ‘Maintaining frontline cover remains the service’s number one priority despite continuing cuts in government funding.
‘The service has been exploring options to address the shortfall in the coming years. Improvements to our new rescue pumps and in the way we respond to fires, particularly small fires, has led to a considered analysis of the vehicles at Southsea.
‘There is a proposal to reduce the number of pumps at Southsea from three to two. At the current time, this is only a proposal and would be subject to a six-month consultation period and fire authority approval before any changes took place.
‘We do not anticipate there would be any compulsory job losses at Southsea.
‘Subject to consultation and approval, no changes would take place before 2014-15.
‘We believe the proposal would have minimal impact on front-line firefighting and the service we offer to the communities in and around Portsmouth.’
TWO FIRE VEHICLES COULD MERGE INTO ONE APPLIANCE
THE county’s fire service is also looking to merge two support vehicles.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is looking to remove a multi-role vehicle from Havant fire station.
The engine is not a front-line appliance, but provides back-up equipment for other trucks.
Its services will be merged with the special equipment unit, based in Cosham.
The service is likely to start a three-month public consultation on this in June this year.