A new fire engine is being piloted on the county’s roads that will enable crews to respond to incidents more quickly.
The First Response Capability (FRC) vehicle is first being trialled in Alton, where it will be evaluated by firefighters on the ground.
They will be able to respond more quickly due to the vehicle’s minimum two-person crewing requirement, and this will also enable on-call stations to attend local incidents where they would previously have been “off-the-run” unless a team of at least four was available.
The new engine is also slightly shorter and more slimline than traditional ones, giving it greater manoeuvrability on the roads.
It will also be rolled out at Hightown, Winchester, Kingsclere, Brockenhurst and Gosport stations.
The FRC is equipped with ladders, water, hose reels, breathing apparatus and cutting gear as well as new equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, the Immediate Emergency Care pack and Ultra-High Pressure Lance.
A bespoke stowage system has enabled the engine to carry an array of handheld tools and supporting equipment, and the vehicle may be altered based on the views of the firefighters using it.
Response Delivery Station Manager Gina Gray, who worked on the FRC project, said:
“This is a really impressive addition to the fleet and it will give us, as a service, the chance to respond to incidents in the best way possible.
“The new vehicle allows us to send an on-call crew out with two or three people instead of being off-the-run if we don’t have four people available.
“Until now, a fire engine would have to be called in from farther away to deal with an incident, whereas now we can attend and get to nearby incidents to provide initial actions while other vehicles are being mobilised and, in some cases, the FRC will be able to resolve incidents on its own.
“This is an additional vehicle to the fleet, not a replacement, and it will improve firefighter availability at retained stations.”
Deputy Chief Officer Neil Odin said:
“I am extremely pleased to see the launch of this pilot vehicle, which reflects the hard work and ingenuity of our teams who have designed it with front line crews.
“This is part of an array of new technology and strategies that will keep our firefighters safer and help them deliver a faster, more effective service to the public.”
This pilot vehicle has been rolled out as part of a three-tiered fleet that also includes traditional engines and the recently launched Intermediate Capability vehicle.
The new vehicles will run in conjunction with the groundbreaking approach devised by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service called SAVE – Scan, Attack, Ventilate and Enter and Extinguish.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman Chris Carter said:
“The rollout of these vehicles marks an exciting new chapter in the fire service’s history.
“As an authority we are proud of our involvement and the pioneering strategies and tactics this new vehicle will support.
“The FRC, and other initiatives, is among the reasons Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is one of the best in the country.
“The new range of vehicles will help us protect our communities while giving the people of Hampshire the best value possible.”