The Isle of Wight Council have confirmed that an appliance from the mainland was transported across the Solent on Saturday due to a shortage of available appliances on the Island. This mobilisation would have come at an obvious additional cost to the tax payer.
Island Echo has previously reported on the availability of firefighters following a recent fitness test which has seen between 10-20 firefighters taken off the run. A further 7 firefighters’ temporary wholetime contracts will not be renewed on 31st December.
Sources say that Newport’s retained crew, Cowes’ retained appliance and Yarmouth’s retained appliance are now off the run ‘until the New Year’, with a number of other stations also struggling to make an appliance available including Bembridge and Sandown.
Information acquired by Island Echo demonstrates the worrying availability of Isle of Wight fire appliances at an undisclosed time and date recently.
At one point the availability was:
H71P1 – MOBILISED (Newport)
H71P2 – UNAVAILABLE (Newport)
H71A1 – UNAVAILABLE
H71C1 – UNAVAILABLE
H71R1 – UNAVAILABLE
H71R2 – UNAVAILABLE
H72P1 – UNAVAILABLE (Cowes)
H73P1 – UNAVAILABLE (East Cowes)
H73F1 – AVAILABLE (Special)
H74P1 – MOBILISED (Ryde)
H74P2 – MOBILISED
H74P3 – UNAVAILABLE
H74A1 – UNAVAILABLE (Special)
H74T1 – AVAILABLE (Special)
H75P1 – UNAVAILABLE (Bembridge)
H76P1 – UNAVAILABLE (Sandown)
H77P1 – UNAVAILABLE (Shanklin)
H78P1 – UNAVAILABLE (Ventnor)
H78W1 – AVAILABLE (Special)
H79P1 – AVAILABLE (Freshwater)
H80P1 – UNAVAILABLE (Yarmouth)
The above shows that the only station available for full firefighting duties was Freshwater, as Newport wholetime (H71P1) and both Ryde appliances (H74P1/P2) were tied up on different incidents. This means just 1 fire engine was providing immediate cover – on a retained basis – across the entire Isle of Wight at the moment this information was gathered. Even if the other 3 pumps became available immediately, there would at best just 4 appliances to cover the Island.
The appliances marked in blue are ‘specials’ such as the water carrier and are manned by just 2 crew. They have no firefighting capability on their own.
Rumours have been circulating that the Island is to lose at least 1 of its senior fire officers to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service soon – but this remains to be seen.