Hants Fire Brigade Union warns of 'threadbare' cover due to Covid staff shortages following recent job cuts.
The number of firefighters off sick or self isolating due to Covid is impacting on crew levels at Hamsphire fire stations the Fire Brigades Union have warned.
The FBU say that Covid related absences are coming on top of recent job efficiencies – the union recently revealed that Hampshire has lost 70 firefighters since 2020 due to cuts.
According to the FBU ‘numerous’ stations in Hampshire were short-staffed over the New Year period and on the night of 28 December there were no rostered firefighters available for duty at Gosport Fire station, so personnel from other stations had to be drafted in to provide cover.
In a Press release Mark Chapman, the FBU regional secretary for Hampshire said:
The service is at an absolutely threadbare level of cover.
We even had one fire station essentially left without any firefighters, having to borrow firefighters from another station.
As Omicron takes grip across the country that’s something we’ll continue to see in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and more widely.
That’s because the government has cut the fire and rescue service to its bare bones, with Hampshire losing almost one in five of its firefighters since 2010, and the Isle of Wight losing more than one in four in that same period..
Hampshire and IOW Fire Rescue Service told Eastleigh News that as of 3 January they had 64 firefighters who were either off with Covid or else self-isolating ( 4.4% of the workforce) and that the staff absences at Gosport Fire Station were unrelated to Covid.
Area Manager Kevin Evenett, Assistant Director of Operations for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, said:
Like all emergency services, we have robust contingency plans in place to cover staff absences and keep those plans under review to make sure we can continue to respond when needed. This includes moving firefighters and fire engines around when necessary to maintain cover.
All colleagues have been reminded about the importance of protecting themselves and others from Covid-19 and this includes wearing face masks, practicing social distancing where possible, using lateral flow tests, and isolating when necessary.