Fire and rescue services explore new ways of working together

Avon Fire & Rescue Service logoIn response to the challenges faced by reduced budgets, Avon Fire & Rescue Service and Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service have begun talks to see if there are ways they can work together.

 

Along with all public sector organisations, both fire and rescue services are facing financial pressures due to reductions in government funding and they are exploring ways to improve effectiveness throughout their entire operations.

Councillor Terry Walker, Chair of Avon Fire Authority, was keen to point out that these talks are at their earliest stages. He said: “During these challenging times we cannot rule out new ways of working to help meet our reduced budgets, whilst aiming to maintain the much valued service we provide to the public. Our initial talks with Devon & Somerset will look into how we work together.”

The initial talks will look to explore all ways of working from potentially sharing supporting functions to the possibility of a full merger.

Councillor Mark Healey, Chairman of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority, echoed Councillor Walker’s comments and was keen to stress that any developments considered would need to have tangible benefits for local people.

He said, “Working with Avon Fire & Rescue Service could provide real opportunities for improving public safety. We recognise that the fire and rescue service has to change and, like others, face an uncertain financial future. The Government direction is clear and our times of austerity are not behind us. Working with another fire and rescue service may help reduce our costs, whilst continuing our aim to improve or maintain public safety.”

Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell (Devon & Somerset) and Chief Fire Officer Kevin Pearson (Avon) are personally leading these discussions and both remain open minded to what may emerge. This current stage of talks is purely preliminary and no decisions have been made to the extent of how the two services could work together.