Hampshire fire service “among the best in the country”

Hampshire fire service is among the best in the country, according to a new report.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service has published its end of year performance report, which breaks down the service’s operations from April 2021 to March 2022.

Across the country’s 22 fire authorities, Hampshire and Isle of Wight ranked third best for fire containment – specifically to the room a fire breaks out in.

Firefighters have also been proactive in making visits to vulnerable residents, ensuring their homes are safe, and the service’s average response time is still faster than the national average – below eight minutes for critical incidents.

This came at a time when fire stations helped to administer more than 150,000 Covid-19 vaccines, and as firefighters doubled up as ambulance drivers and first responders.

Deputy chief fire officer Shantha Dickinson said firefighters should be ‘proud’ of the lengths they go to in keeping Hampshire safe.

She said: ‘We are incredibly proud of what the service has achieved over this last year – even with increased staff sickness – improving performance or  returning to pre-Covid levels many areas.

‘There was also a significant increase of 29 per cent in the number of safe and well visits we delivered.’

Liberal Democrat spokesman for health and social care, Councillor David Harrison, said: ‘There are a lot of really positive things in this report. The number of safe and well visits is just one example.

‘It seems to be creating a really positive cycle, as increased prevention work reduces the number of call-outs, which is good for the service’s value for money.’

Liberal Democrat member for Fareham and Portchester, Cllr Roger Price, added: ‘Our firefighters have been exemplary throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘A few years ago, who would have thought that they would be helping out in hospitals and do so much to help with vaccinations?

‘We owe them a lot of thanks.’

However, the report did also highlight some areas that require improvement from the fire service.

Eight fire fatalities were recorded between April 2021 and March 2022, up from seven the previous year.

These fatalities include deaths at road traffic collisions (RTCs) and suicides.

There has also been a reduction in on-call availability, which has been put down to increased staff absences and hiring problems at rural fire stations.

Photo: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service