Sending Land Rovers to small fires is good sense

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It seems like such a simple idea. And often the best ones are the simple ones.

Why send a big engine and up to six personnel to a small rural fire when it can be dealt with perfectly well by a suitably-equipped Land Rover and fewer crew?

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service reckons it could save more than £80,000 a year by making its responses to calls more appropriate in scale.

A trial at three retained fire stations last year – Waterlooville, Fleet and Ringwood – was a success and now it could be rolled out across the county using a fleet of 18 Land Rovers.

We think this all makes good sense.

Bin, grass or rubbish fires may not need a major appliance, but current fire service policy says that one engine must be sent as a minimum to every blaze, no matter what size.

It’s not just the expense of sending out an engine.

There’s also the issue of manpower.

If an engine goes out on a shout, then five or six crew have to go with it – even if the fire poses a limited risk and can be put out within minutes by a single firefighter with a reduced amount of water and equipment.

But one of the most important advantages of using a Land Rover for minor fires is that it frees up the engines for jobs they are really needed for.

As Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief officer Andy Bower says: ‘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.’

We support the use of Land Rovers in suitable circumstances – and not just in rural areas.

Because Portsmouth is a unitary urban authority, it was not included in the original Land Rover trial.

But we certainly think there is a case for using them in the city too.

Where streets are narrow with cars parked either side, access is often an issue and big engines can struggle to make it through gaps.

Land Rovers would be ideal.