Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Fire union claims 'lives at risks' over Hampshire vehicle changes

Plans to remove a specialist fire and rescue support vehicle from beside a Hampshire motorway is risking lives, the Fire Brigades Union has claimed.

The Special Equipment Unit based at Winchester, used for dealing with car crashes and chemical spills, is among seven support vehicles being replaced.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) insists three modern units can provide cover, but 12 jobs would go.

The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) called it a "backdoor" to more frontline cuts.

Forty frontline posts have been lost in the service over the past two years.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue proposes to remove a Special Equipment Unit currently based at the Winnall roundabout next to the M3 and A34.

'Better service'

The service argues that modern pump appliances now carry more specialist equipment, and new vehicles are more adaptable and flexible.

The FBU's Paul Trew said: "By removing the Special Equipment Unit from Winchester, you are putting people's lives at risk.

"Time is of the essence in all incidents and this will involve a delay."

He said the loss of jobs would make it difficult to provide cover for critical training for firefighters.

HFRS area manager Andy Bowers insisted new support vehicles based at Southampton, Basingstoke and Cosham would "more than adequately" cover all of Hampshire.

A fourth new vehicle will be used for training.

"With the move to better equipment on all of our 76 frontline appliances, actually a better service should result.

"We think this a carefully considered improvement and is not one which puts lives at risk."

He said that the loss of posts would not impact training of remaining firefighters.

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