When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Firefighters will sell skills
FIREFIGHTERS in Hampshire will sell certain skills to the public in order to solve a funding crisis.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority has set up a commercial trading arm in response to Government funding cuts.
The authority needs to find up to £2.3m illion in savings in 2015-16, and up to £5.6m in 2016-17.
At the latest meeting of the full authority, members agreed to the commercial plan and announced a partnership with Hook-based service giant Serco.
The first contract the partnership will bid for is the Andover-based Defence Fire Risk and Management Organisation, which provides fire risk management to Ministry of Defence sites and operations in the UK and overseas.
Profits from the company will be put back into frontline services.
Councillor Royston Smith, chairman of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “In Serco, we have found a strategic partner that complements our skills, has a strong track record of excellent service delivery, and whose values are very much aligned with ours.
“Our partnership with Serco will not impact on the existing services we provide but it will improve our ability to generate income and so ensure we have the financial strength to provide the very best service to the people of Hampshire.”
Services that the company could charge for include training and fire engineering expertise to public or commercial organisations.
By law, it cannot charge for its core services like extinguishing fires and rescuing people involved in road traffic accidents.
A report prepared for the committee meeting stated that firefighters from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service would be seconded to the new company.
The authority would loan the company £250,000 over three years to provide cash flow to start up initial trading costs, which will be repaid using any profits.
The authority heard that other fire services, such as Essex, Devon and Somerset and West Midlands, have already set up commercial trading arms.