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Fire bosses vow not to close stations after merger of local services

The new merged service caters for nearly 2-million residents (photo: HIWFRS)
The new merged service caters for nearly 2-million residents (photo: HIWFRS)

FIRE chiefs have promised no stations will close after the formal merger of the two services that cover Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The union has been hailed as a “new era of firefighting” as assurances were also made that all response vehicles will remain available.

The new Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) launched last Thursday and will work across 61 stations, serving a community of nearly 2-million residents.

Neil Odin will continue to preside over HIWFRS as chief fire officer – the same role he had served overseeing both previously separate organisations.

His deputy, Steve Apter, said: “This is a momentous point in the history of the fire service across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight as our two organisations embark on our continued mission to make life safer for those in our communities.

“Every fire station remains open, every fire engine remains available.

“We are now set to commence an exciting and innovative programme of investment across our sites, equipment and fleet ensuring our organisation continues to deliver and improve upon the exceptional service we provide to the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.”

The official merger follows five years of close collaboration across the Solent. The single organisation said that it now aims to build upon those strong relationships

The decision to combine the two services followed a public consultation in 2018, and the move will see a solely fire-focused authority govern the Isle of Wight’s fire service for the first time.

HIWFRS is now governed by a new Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Authority, which had been meeting as a shadow authority in preparation.

The authority, which was signed off by the Home Office early last year, comprises representatives from Hampshire County and Isle of Wight councils, as well as Southampton and Portsmouth city councils.

Staff were consulted beforehand to ensure they understood and were prepared for the transfer to the new employer.

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