Fire merger ‘not ruled out’

By Connie Osborne Thursday 05 June 2014 Updated: 06/06 09:31

A MERGER between county fire services cannot be ruled out, fire chiefs say.

Gary Phillips, deputy chief fire officer for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, said although they had not been given the 'official nod' to partner up with the service in Hereford and Worcester, a merger was not out of the question.

Speaking to councillors at a recent Alcester Town Council meeting, Mr Phillips said the service already relied on crews from across the border coming into Warwickshire and vice versa.

He added under the proposed £2.4 million cuts to the brigade over the next four years, it could be worthwhile working with Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service in the future.

"We do do a lot of work with them and communication is always strong," he said.

"We do a lot of cross border work because of our proximity, the border is an invisible line to us when the calls come through.

"It is something we have thought about and cannot be ruled out completely. It will be something that we could look at as these changes come in.

"It is an option potentially for the future."

The meeting was held to discuss the proposed changes to the service including the downgrading of Alcester Fire Station where just one engine will be available between 10am and 10pm and a county-wide cut of 20 full time firefighters as well as five control room jobs.

HWFRS is also expected to approve its own cuts to frontline services at a meeting on Monday (June 9) with the loss of one of Redditch's three engines.

A spokeswoman for HWFRS said the authority faced a challenging financial environment and would need to make significant future savings beyond those proposed.

"Collaboration with Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service (WFRS) is a potential means of achieving some of those savings and it is for this reason that a joint project team has been established with WFRS to examine any potential benefits of closer working and possible

sharing of resources.

"The project team will report back to both Authorities later this year."

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