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Fire fighting fears at military base handling explosives
8:00am Sunday 13th January 2013 in News
A HAMPSHIRE military base that handles high explosives could be left without on-the-spot firefighting cover at weekends.
Any out-of-hours emergencies at Marchwood Military Port will have to be tackled by civilian crews based at fire stations several miles away under plans being drawn up by the Ministry of Defence.
The Daily Echo understands that the proposal is part of an attempt by the Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation (DFRMO) to save £800,000 a year.
Government ministers say military firefighters will provide cover if “high-risk” activities such as the loading and unloading of munitions ever need to take place at weekends.
But critics claim the consequences could be disastrous if a blaze broke out at the port when the on-site crew was offduty.
The nearest civilian fire stations are at Hythe and Hardley, both several miles away.
Marchwood district councillor Alison Hoare, who is also chairman of the local parish council, said: “It’s a very worrying and potentially dangerous situation.
“At times the base holds large amounts of ammunition and I’d have thought it only right and safe to have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week cover.”
Marchwood county councillor David Harrison also expressed concern.
He said: “I think all those who live and work in the area will have to trust that a full and proper risk assessment has been carried out.
“There is always the worry that the drive to cut costs will involve more risk.”