A fire and rescue station was left with no firefighters available for duty, as the spread of Omicron hit the fire and rescue service in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Multiple other stations have been left with fire engines unavailable due to staff shortages.
Gosport fire station had no rostered firefighters available on the night of 28 December, meaning that firefighters had to be moved from another local fire station to cover there.
The incident is part of a wider pattern of shortages in the area, thought to be related to Covid. In the period from 28 December to 2 January numerous fire stations were short-staffed on a further three days.
On all of these four days, including the 28th, multiple fire stations were so short-staffed that they were left with fire engines unavailable. This was at a highpoint on the 28th, with five engines unavailable.
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service had around 40 people self-isolating with Covid as of the 28 December.
Mark Chapman, regional secretary for Region 12 of the Fire Brigades Union, 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.’