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The Service

History of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

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The information on this page was taken from "Proud to Serve - 50 Years of Firefighting and Rescue in Hampshire" written by Alan House, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

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From 1 April 1948 Hampshire County Council was required to establish a fire brigade for the whole of Hampshire with the exception of the county boroughs of Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth who, as independent fire authorities, were required to establish their own fire brigades. When the planning commenced in 1947 the geographical area of Hampshire was known as the County of Southampton.

The first meeting of Hampshire's Fire Services Committee on 29 August 1947 was convened to discuss just one item, the appointment of a Chief Fire Officer (Designate) for the county.

In January 1948 it was reported in the recently formed Fire Service Committee minutes, in consideration of the need to establish a County Fire Headquarters, that premises known as North Hill House, Andover Road, Winchester, appeared to be suitable, but were currently held under requisition by the Admiralty, although at this time it was not clear what the Admiralty proposals were for the future. It was agreed that the Chairman should take all steps necessary to acquire the premises in the event of it being vacated by the Admiralty including, if necessary, the use of a compulsory purchasing order.

On 1 April 1948 the control of the fire service was passed back to local authorities. Within the geographical area that formed the County of Hampshire at that time, the following number of fire stations were in existence:

Area Station  
Hampshire Fire Service 50 (Liss and Crondall Stations closed 1 January 1950, second Gosport Station closed 1 April 1954)
Southampton Fire Brigade 3 (Plus 1 dedicated fireboat station at Royal Pier) (Later increased to 4)
Portsmouth Fire Brigade 4 (Later reduced to 3)
Bournemouth Fire Brigade 4 (Transferred to Dorset in 1974 following Local Government Re-organisation)

The Hampshire Fire Service was divided into four operational 'districts' (later redesignated Divisions) each with a District Headquarters (based at Aldershot, Fareham, Winchester and Lyndhurst) working to a County Headquarters in Winchester. In March 1948 the County Headquarters had been temporarily established at 'Litton Lodge', Clifton Road, Winchester, and at 1200 hours on 31 March the control room for the new organisation was temporarily sited at Winchester Fire Station, North Walls. It should be remembered that prior to the formation of the Hampshire Fire Service, the County was served by two separate NFS Fire Forces (No 14 and No 16) each with its own Headquarters. Mobilising during the NFS era was also a divided function with controls at Southampton, Aldershot, Fareham and Bournemouth.

The Workshops was established at Kingsworthy at premises formerly used by the National Fire Service as a Divisional Workshops and latterly as a storage depot. Much of the repair equipment formerly used by the NFS was transferred across to the Hampshire Fire Service.

The Admiralty ultimately gave up possession of North Hill House at the end of May 1948 and the Fire Service took up occupation on 20 September. The control room was also moved to this location from its temporary site at Winchester Fire Station.

In April 1968, the Headquarters and the control room were moved to occupy a floor in the newly constructed Ashburton Court, Winchester.

As a result of Local Government Re-organisation, the number of fire brigades in the UK were reduced by the amalgamation of various fire authorities. This resulted locally in the formation of the 'Hampshire Fire Service' on 1 April 1948.

Following a period of debate and negotiations which had been ongoing for some four years, work finally commenced on the 'new' Headquarters site, previously occupied by North End School in Leigh Road, Eastleigh. The control room wing was occupied in September 1980 and in September 1981 the remainder of the Headquarters building was occupied. In September 1983 the Training Centre fire station and Brigade Stores building was occupied. Work finally finished at the Headquarters site in December 1984 with the completion of the Training Centre complex and on 22 March 1985 the whole of the complex was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen.

On 1 April 1997, following a further national review of Local Government, the Hampshire County Council lost total responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service. A newly constituted Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority was formed with proportional representation from the unitary authorities; Southampton City Council, Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council, having joint political and financial responsibility for providing a fire and rescue service for the county of Hampshire. Today's Fire and Rescue Service responds as a matter of course to a range of emergencies far greater than originally envisaged within the scope of the Act and, on an ever increasing scale.

In addition to attending every type of fire, Hampshire's firefighters use their professional skills attending road traffic accidents, hazardous material incidents, rescue scenarios, animals in distress, environmental pollution incidents, the results of adverse weather, particularly flooding and high wind damage, plus a range of general humanitarian assistance and support functions including aid to other countries. Our firefighters may be cutting a ring off some small child's finger at one moment and next by flying in a helicopter to a ship on fire somewhere off the coast.

The role has changed and widened, but the desire to give professional help is strong, if not stronger, than it has ever been.


Alan House:

Tel:  01489 699242