The Fire Brigades Union in Northamptonshire is extremely concerned at reports suggesting a possible merger of the fire and rescue service and the police, which firefighters believe will damage the service to the public.
Firefighters were alarmed to find out from media reports this week that high-level talks have already taken place between managers without the knowledge of the workforce. Newly-elected police and crime commissioner Adam Simmonds announced without warning that he hoped to push through a merger of the county’s police and fire services.
Steve Mason, FBU brigade secretary of Northamptonshire said: “We strongly believe that each of the emergency services are completely unique in the way that they need to work, the incidents they have to deal with and the management structure that is required to run an effective service. We are extremely proud that when a member of the public calls a fire engine, they get one.
“A merger would be driven by cuts and bad news for the public. It would affect how quickly firefighters get to an emergency and whether we have the personnel and resources to tackle it. The public want professionally trained firefighters when they call us.
“It is obvious that secret talks have been going on for some time. It is a major concern that the county fire officer has seen fit not to consult with the FBU. We were informed of the press release and the email to staff an hour before it was released. This is a totally unacceptable situation.”
The FBU has been informed that three senior managers including the chief fire officer are relocating their offices to police headquarters at Wooten Hall. The FBU believes this decision puts a question mark over the future of the fire service HQ. They have already decided to move fire control to Daventry.
Mason said: “Even the government’s own Fire Futures review two years ago ruled out the single governance model for emergency services. A forced merger, carried out with no consultation, is not in the best interests of the communities we serve or the firefighters we represent.
“We will be seeking urgent talks with the county fire officer and the county council portfolio holder for the fire service to discuss the future of Northants fire and rescue service. We will also be seeking meetings with the representative bodies of the other emergency services to consider the way forward.”
Steve Mason, brigade secretary, Northants FBU
Sheldon Fenning, brigade chair, Northants FBU
07973 740 095