More than 200 firefighting jobs have been cut after plans to help save Hampshire’s fire service £4.1million were given the green light.
The changes will see 60 full-time and 152 retained posts lost throughout the county as Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service looks to tackle a £12.2m deficit caused by Government funding being reduced.
A third of fire engines are also to be replaced by smaller rapid response vehicles over the next three years to save £450,000 following Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority’s vote yesterday.
And £1.5m will also be invested in new state of the art technology not used anywhere else in the country to help deal with the reduction of manpower.
The changes, which will be implemented from April, followed a four-month consultation on the future of the fire service last year, with fire authority chairman Cllr Chris Carter insisting that a “new and improved” service would now be delivered.
He said: “The authority has considered the proposals in great deal.
“I am so grateful to all who took part in last year’s consultation, especially the significant contribution by firefighters, as it provided valuable feedback which has helped the authority to make its decision.
“We now move forward, accepting these final proposals which we believe will build on the successes of the past to deliver new and improved capabilities for the future.”
None of the county’s 51 stations will close due to the changes, although eight staff positions from Basingstoke’s fire station in West Ham Close will be lost to save £469,052.
Among the new technology to be rolled out across Hampshire is an ultra high-pressure lance capable of cutting through steel and reducing temperatures in a fire compartment from 600c to 60c in less than a minute.
And despite the loss of firefighters, Chief Officer Dave Curry was adamant that the fire service would not suffer as a result.
He added: “At the heart of these changes remains our commitment to keeping the residents of Hampshire and our firefighters safe.
“We will be introducing new capabilities throughout the county to ensure that our firefighters are fully equipped to deliver the best possible service to our communities.
“We will now embark on three years of implementation as we create a smarter, more efficient and more effective service for the residents of Hampshire.”