Cutting-edge technology and world-class expertise is being used to shape the future of modern firefighting with a new approach which will enhance the safety of the public and crews.
“The equipment is there but we are the first service to bring all of these things together – it is going to revolutionise the way we work.
As part of a continuing drive for true operational effectiveness, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) has developed the SAVE strategy – scan, attack, ventilate, enter.
It will be the first county to adopt the approach and fire bosses are currently trialling different equipment to be used and training staff ahead of an upcoming roll out.
Assistant Chief Officer Andy Bowers, who oversaw the creation of the strategy, said:
“We were looking at ways to improve the way we operate – which was already extremely good and efficient – when we came up the idea of SAVE.
“It is easy to remember and it is at the heart of what we are about.
“The need for this new strategy for the modern age comes from a constant desire to improve, an understanding of the opportunities new technologies offer and a commitment to meet the financial challenges we face.”
“HFRS, like many other fire and rescue services, has seen a significant reduction in the amount of fire incidents over the past decade.
ACO Bowers added this was part of the service’s vision for modern firefighting.
The new approach includes greater use of state-of-the-art thermal imaging cameras to locate and assess a fire, and its dangers, before entering a building.
HFRS will be ensuring these cameras are widely distributed and using them becomes part of the firefighting culture for both incident commanders and crew members who wear breathing apparatus.
Crews will also use Ultra-High Pressure Lances (UHPL), which pump out water and tiny abrasive pellets, to cut small holes in walls and spray a cooling layer of mist.
This will reduce the temperature and limit the impact of a blaze while making it safer for firefighters tackling it.
These specialist lances will be introduced on appliances to sit alongside foam equipment that has been introduced in recent years.
The Compressed Air Foam System has proven an excellent tool in knocking down fires and rapid heat reduction.
Fire crews will also train in various forms of tactical ventilation available to them to reduce dangers posed by heat and smoke.
UHPL can also be used as a ventilation tool.
These changes come following the approval of the Integrated Risk Management Plan created as part of the Risk Review Project to improve the service while making savings of £4.1 million by March 2019.
Andy Bowers said SAVE is also a consequence of the massively successful preventative work by HFRS, and other services, which has seen the number of fires cut by half in the past ten years.
However, it also means firefighters have less frequent operational contact and experience in tackling fires.
ACO Bowers said:
“Whilst this is to be welcomed from a community safety perspective this does also have a negative impact.
“We are clearly now seeing the impact of reducing experience and resultant degradation of practical firefighting knowledge and skills.”
In the modern era the characteristics of the ‘average’ fire is becoming more difficult to define with only about 30 percent requiring a fully equipped engine.
Due to this a new three-tiered system of response will run alongside the SAVE approach.
First response vehicles could be crewed by just two people if necessary and would normally be sent to low hazard incidents.
However, their increased agility on the roads – being much smaller than a traditional engine – will also make it effective in getting an early ‘first strike’ on an incident.
An intermediary response vehicle will carry between two and five firefighters and have a greater water carrying capacity, breathing apparatus, longer ladders and additional rescue equipment.
The enhanced response vehicle is similar to the traditional fire engine and will be crewed by between four and six people, and be kitted out with heavy rescue gear, a large pump, long ladder and specialist foam equipment.
ACO Bowers said:
“HFRS is attempting to develop an approach which provides an efficient and effective fire and rescue response which builds upon traditional methods and crewing working practices with greater innovation and options."
“A tall order some might say but one which is absolutely essential for the organisation that wants to provide the best possible service to the public in the current fiscal climate."
Firefighters demonstrates benefits of new lance