Police takeover of Fire and Rescue Services “will damage public safety” warns FBU

Fire budgets could be cut in favour of policing, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned after fire authorities lost a bid to block a takeover from West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). Firefighters’ vital community engagement work could also be threatened as their independence from the police is eroded.

Hereford and Worcester and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Services could face £4 million in cuts if the takeover goes ahead. The FBU has dismissed “misleading” claims from the PCC, John Campion, that the cuts could be implemented without affecting emergency cover.

Emergency Fire Control Rooms, where firefighters organise and supervise the emergency response in their counties, will be worst affected. Firefighters fear that emergency calls may not be answered as quickly, delaying the emergency response to fires and road traffic collisions in communities.

Andrew Scattergood, West Midlands regional secretary for the FBU, said: “It’s dangerously misleading for the PCC to suggest he can cut £4 million from existing budgets without affecting emergency cover. Fire Control Room staff are firefighters and are trained to provide vital fire survival guidance calls. Scrapping their posts or merging with policing services is simply not safe.”

Scattergood continued: “Firefighters provide a humanitarian service which often allows access to areas of the community with which the police sometimes struggle to engage. We cannot do that unless it’s clear that we’re not the police. We’re not going to cave in on this matter. We’ll keep fighting until this hostile takeover stops. This is a serious matter of public safety.”

The takeover could face further legal challenges over the coming months unless the PCC withdraws the takeover bid. The FBU is encouraging residents to raise their concerns in a submission to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Authority’s consultation, which will decide its next steps to challenge the decision.

The FBU and Fire and Rescue authorities have adamantly opposed the takeover, voicing concerns about its “undemocratic nature” as well as John Campion’s lack of Fire Service experience. The PCC has a background in business, prison services and the former police authority.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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