Fire service makes savings on crew cateringBy Amy Taylor
January 30, 2013
HAMPSHIRE firefighters are getting through £15,000 of food and drink at emergency incidents every year – thousands less than in previous years.
The county’s fire and rescue service saved itself £81,000 during the financial year 2012/13, according to a report, by switching from meals prepared by a catering team in a purpose-built trailer to ‘heater’ meals similar to those bought at camping shops.
Fire teams are now sent to incidents with army-style ration kits, known as ‘appliance emergency catering boxes’.
These contain bottled water, hot and cold drink sachets and a maximum of six pre-packed meals per team, which were already used by urban search and rescue teams.
Kettles or camping stoves are also provided to each team for hot drinks on operations.
A spokesman for the fire service said: “We used to have units that actually went out to each incident, but now units are given heater meals, self-heating meals. That would be the provision.
“The trailer had to be crewed and staffed by a catering team, and there were maintenance costs.”
Emergency catering teams were disbanded in July 2011, with most of the 19-strong crew losing their jobs, and since the loss of its chefs the fire service has managed to claw back thousands of pounds in revenue.
Figures set out in its budget report for the third quarter of 2012/13 showed that the fire service had nearly doubled its savings in emergency incident catering, after a saving of just £44,000 during the financial year running to April 2012.
The spokesman added that the £15,000 spend on emergency catering was an "absolute maximum", and a large amount of the money was spent on bottled water for teams working in exhausting situations.
“Out of an average of 25,000 incidents a year, only an absolute maximum of 2,000 would need catering,” she said, adding that this accounted for less than 10% of incidents.
Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service’s finance and general purposes committee met to discuss the savings programme on Tuesday, after snow led to the cancellation of the meeting originally scheduled for January 18.
It also discussed plans to create a trading company run under the fire service, which would outsource its services commercially in an attempt to meet a forecast drop in funding from the government.