Diana Bowerman , News Editor
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Other fire services consider combining forces after success of Devon and Somerset services
AT LEAST £4.1 million has been saved over five years by combining two fire services.
Since Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service combined five years ago this month, it has saved millions.
Devon and Somerset undertook the first voluntary merger in the history of the UK’s fire and rescue service. Now other services across the UK are considering the benefits of merging forces.
A Local Government Association review has found the combination has produced significant financial savings, therefore minimising increases to the service’s council tax precept.
Sharing staff and resources allows improvement in the delivery and efficiency of its services.
Deputy chief fire officer Neil Gibbins, who was the combination project director for the merger, said: “The joint organisation is in a far stronger position than would be the case if the two services were still separate.
“We have made significant financial savings whilst creating a more flexible workforce which allows us to put our resources where they are most needed.
“We also have a stronger influence nationally, which means that we can raise issues that affect rural fire services like ourselves at the highest level.”
The shared resources has enabled improvements to be made in training and staff development and the growth of commercial operations.
The service has become more targeted and innovative in its community safety work, increasing its contribution to reducing deaths and injuries from traffic collisions.