As part of Fund the Frontline, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are calling for more firefighters after concerns that Southampton lives could be at risk due to a shortfall in firefighters.
Hightown Fire Station was recently forced to take one of its two trucks off the road more than 80 times in less than four months, as a consequence of currently having only 40 firefighters available to work on a rotating shift basis. At a minimum, an engine can be crewed by four firefighters, however this should be six.
The FBU representative for Hightown station, Richard Brown, said:
This has left the public without the correct number of trucks within Southampton to respond immediately to certain call types such as high-rise fires. The service is very short-staffed currently and was making up for these shortfalls with overtime shifts, they have now decided that there is too great a financial cost to this and that it is better to take trucks off the road instead of paying overtime.
The trade union hope to see Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service recruit at least 198 firefighters across the county, with four more in Hightown.
The Fund the Frontline campaign is calling for the funding of 5,000 firefighters across the United Kingdom.
Former chair of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, MP for Southampton and Itchen, Royston Smith explained:
Crewing is an operational issue. Fire call outs are down by around a half in the last ten years thanks in part to smoke detectors and sprinkler systems. New technology means pumps can sometimes operate with fewer firefighters. However, pumps and crew off the run are of concern but the HFR authority can generate additional funds from council tax if they wish.