Isle of Wight fire service incidents involving mainland crews double in 2023

Fire Crew

Mainland fire crews responded to major incidents 15 times on the Isle of Wight last year — more than double that in 2022.

This article first appeared in ‘On The Wight’. See here.

Figures have been revealed following a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service after a review into how the fire service operates on the Island was announced.

Tackling known resilience challenges
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) has said the review will tackle the known resilience challenges and the evolving and unique needs and risks on the Island.

In the past five years, 41 incidents required the support of mainland crews on the Island, with more than a quarter happening last year alone.

In 2022 and 2021, there were seven incidents each. A total of 33 mainland crews were deployed to the 15 incidents in 2023.

A range of incidents
At one incident — an agricultural barn fire at Bowcombe — crews from nine mainland fire stations were mobilised to provide cover.

On the same day in December, a further five mainland crews were called to a domestic fire in Brading. Other incidents included rescuing people from mud, small vehicle fires and assisting with bariatric patients as well as responding to false alarms.

In previous years crews have also responded to aircraft incidents, derelict property fires and assisted other emergency agencies.

HIWFRS: Regularly moves appliances strategically
Responding to the figures, HIWFRS said it regularly moves appliances strategically to ensure suitable cover is provided across all areas.

A spokesperson also said they use the professional judgement of officers and control teams to match resources to the identified risk, within procedural guidance.

It works to standard response plans, HIWFRS said, influenced by National Operation Guidance, which pre-determines the resources sent to most incidents, regardless of geographical location.

It said as a unified service it is better positioned to share resources across the Solent, ensuring greater resilience.

Other advantages
Mainland crews also provide operational cover and attend Island-based exercises and training scenarios, HIWFRS said, to familiarise themselves with Island risks.

As the number of incidents has increased, so has the cost of transporting the crews, engines and equipment over to the Island.

Travel costs
In 2021/22, HIWFRS spent £1,657 on travel costs, which more than doubled the following year (22/23) to £5,103.

The travel costs have doubled again in the current financial year, from April 2023 to January 2024, so far HIWFRS has forked out £11,080 to bring crews to the Island.

Costs were also requested for the years prior to the merger between the Hampshire and Isle of Wight fire services but the data was unavailable.

This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which News OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may have been made by OnTheWight. Ed

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