Following the Home Secretary’s recent speech to the Police Federation and reports in this weekend’s Sunday Express, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) responds to proposals to enable closer working between fire and other emergency services:
CFOA is very supportive of moves to enable closer working between emergency services where appropriate, and is keen to highlight that fire and rescue services across the UK are already working closely with the police and ambulance services, both at the operational and strategic level. A number of fire and rescue services are already working with Police and Crime Commissioners and Ambulance Trusts to share facilities and support functions. In addition, CFOA is leading on efforts to further facilitate joint working through the Emergency Services Collaboration Working Group (ESCWG), supported by the Home Office, and the ongoing Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles (JESIP), which build on the very successful JESI Program.
However, CFOA would be concerned about any move to place all fire and rescue services under the control of Police and Crime Commissioners. Fire and rescue service enjoy close working relationships with many other organisations and agencies other than emergency services, and require the freedom and flexibility to build these partnerships as well. For example, innovative work is taking place with the NHS and Public Health England on the prevention, health and well being agenda. Some fire and rescue services are embedded within county councils and already share back office services, while many non-county services also share functions with local authorities.
We also believe that fire and rescue services have an important part to play in the government’s proposals, announced within the Queen’s Speech, for further devolution to city regions and other parts of local government.
Following these announcements, CFOA will be writing to the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to outline the organisation’s views. CFOA will also seek a meeting with the Home Office, Department of Communities and Local Government and Department of Health to discuss and shape any proposals at an early stage.