The Emergency Services Collaboration Working Group, the recently formed lead national working group for blue light collaboration, has welcomed the announcement by the Fire Minister, Penny Mordaunt MP, on 17 October of the winning bids from the £75m Fire Transformation Fund.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched the fund earlier this year with the aim of helping fire authorities develop better and more efficient frontline services. It is hoped that the 37 projects funded will save the taxpayer more than £300m. The winning bids include proposals to share fire stations and support functions with their police and ambulance service colleagues.
The Emergency Services Collaboration Working Group met for the first time on 24 September, led by Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Lloyd. The meeting was held at the Home Office in London and attended by representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers, Local Government Association, College of Policing, Chief Fire Officers’ Association and Association of Ambulance Chief Executives.
Mr Lloyd, who represents the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners on the working group, said, “I welcome this support for cross-emergency service collaboration from the Fire Transformation Fund. Finding new and innovative ways of working together is the best way we can deliver more effective and more efficient emergency services for the public in the long term.
“There is a great deal of successful cross-service collaboration projects throughout the UK, some of which have already been supported by the Police Innovation Fund. It is excellent to see more Government support which will help drive further progress in new and exciting areas.”
Chief Fire Officers’ Association President, Peter Dartford, said, “We welcome the Government’s announcement of the distribution of the Fire Transformation Fund. The funding awards recognise the collaborative transformational approach that fire and rescue services are taking, both internally and in association with other emergency services and local authorities, to mitigate the effects of increasing financial pressures.”
Martin Flaherty OBE from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives said, “The ambulance service remains keen to examine all areas of potential blue light collaboration that will genuinely deliver benefits to patients and the public. Therefore the announcement of the Fire Transformation Fund projects can only be a positive step towards that aim.
“We will be carefully monitoring the progress of the initiatives that involve the ambulance service and hope they are proved successful, so that they may become a standard-bearer for future positive collaborations.”
Chief Constable Lynne Owens, who is the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) lead for collaboration, said, “The police are working closely with our emergency service colleagues to identify opportunities to collaborate. This is an important agenda and ensures that we serve the public in the most efficient and effective way.”
Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Fire Services Management Committee, said, “Fire and rescue authorities have risen magnificently to the challenge of developing innovative and forward thinking projects to take their transformation to the next level and ensure further financial savings can be made.
“The announcement of the successful bidders to the £75m Fire Transformation Fund to 37 projects across the country is good news.
“From merging fire stations and headquarter buildings to developing a procurement hub, from relocating local libraries into on-call fire stations to using a web resource for the recruitment of on-call firefighters, these projects reflects the service’s commitment to joint working with each other and the other blue light services in the interests of local communities.”
The Emergency Services Collaboration Working Group itself was established with support from the Department of Health, the DCLG and the Home Office to provide strategic leadership, coordination and overview on a national level to improve emergency service collaboration. It comprises senior leaders from across the emergency services and will act as a national driver for innovation and best practice.