Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) has secured £4 million in Government funding to improve frontline services and strengthen its partnerships with other emergency services.
HFRS was given the green light and funding for two projects as the Government announced the beneficiaries of the £75 million Fire Transformation Fund.
£2.6m will be used to provide a new joint fire and police service headquarters, as well as co-location of both services at some fire stations and progression of fleet maintenance partnerships with other public services.
A further £1.39m will be used to explore how HFRS can transform its on-call services, using early-intervention vehicles to deal with smaller incidents. There will also be further collaboration with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) to attend more medical emergencies, building on the success of the co-responder scheme where retained firefighters support SCAS in providing a first response. HFRS co-responders attended around 10,000 calls last year, providing frontline aid to medical emergencies from 21 retained fire stations in more rural areas.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Curry said: “This announcement is great news for the Service, but most importantly for the communities of Hampshire.
“We are delighted to have secured this key Government funding and it will enable us to continue our collaborative work with Hampshire Police and other emergency services to do our work more efficiently and effectively, making our organisation stronger, and people in Hampshire safer.”
Royston Smith, Chairman of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “The successful bid is fantastic news and a vital step in this hugely important piece of partnership work.
“We remain absolutely focused on delivering the best possible frontline services to our communities, despite the financial challenges we face, and this funding allows us to continue investing in innovative solutions to achieve this and extending Hampshire’s pioneering approach to joint agency work.”
Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt announced the winners of the Fire Transformation Fund, which will improve frontline services and save taxpayers more than £300 million. She said fire services had done “an amazing job in reducing demand on their emergency services” but that they needed to adapt “to meet new demands and to ensure it is working in the most efficient way”.
Mark Ainsworth, Operations Director at SCAS, said: “We are really pleased for our partners at HFRS that they’ve secured the funding to enhance our successful co-responding arrangements and we look forward to continuing to work together to build on the successful arrangements we have already put in place.”
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes, said co-locating senior police officers and support staff with HFRS was key to the successful delivery of his policing estate strategy. “It is only by investing in joint-working initiatives such as this that I will be able to protect people and places, while ensuring that the police’s estate is cost-effective and fit for purpose despite significant economic challenges,” he said.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “This is another example of Hampshire’s emergency services leading the way and how we all have to be prepared to think differently if we are to maintain a high level of service to the public.”