New Vehicle Takes Pressure Off Fire Service

A new specialist unit to deal with small fires in Southampton will free up major fire appliances to be deployed to where they are needed the most.

Southampton’s new Small Fires Vehicle will be on-call 24 hours a day to respond to small fires and antisocial fire-related incidents. The vehicle will mobilise across the areas of the city that are protected by Redbridge Hill and St Mary’s fire stations.

This means that where appropriate, fire engines will no longer need to attend small fires, freeing them up to attend life-risking incidents such as house or property fires.  The mobilisation of the new unit to small fires also means that the training and community safety activities carried out by crews on the traditional fire engines are far less likely to be disrupted.

The vehicle’s crew will consist of one manager, one fire-fighter, and a Community Safety Liaison Officer.  As well as being sent to deal will small non-critical fires, the crew will participate in community engagement activities with an aim of reducing arson in Southampton.

Southampton Group Manager, Tom Carr of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“The Service’s 'First Response Vehicle', based at Redbridge Hill, has already demonstrated that smaller units can be used to combat non critical incidents including and help tackle antisocial behaviour responsible for many small fires.  The main benefits of having dedicated units, is that we are able to provide a response which is scalable to the size of the incident. This allows our main fire engines to attend incidents where the risk to life is greater, when our community need us the most.”

Hampshire's Small Fire's Unit

Councillor Royston Smith, Chairman of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority and Leader of Southampton City Council, added:

 “Most small fires are started deliberately and they are the most frequent type of fire that the fire service has to deal with. Introducing specialist teams to prevent and deal with these non-critical incidents means that our usual frontline fire engines and crews are immediately available to tackle life-threatening and other critical incidents. By freeing up the time of major appliances and the crews manning them, we can also ensure that the fire and rescue service spends more time on preventative work carrying out home safety visits and working with our communities to make them safer.”