The independent report I commissioned into the governance of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GF&RS), which was sponsored by the Home Office, has now been completed.
GF&RS has been governed by the county council since 1974, but the Policing and Crime Act 2017 places a statutory obligation on emergency services to collaborate and enables Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to take on responsibilities for fire and rescue services in their area.
There are four options that could be adopted – where the PCC is represented on a fire authority or its committees; where the PCC takes responsibility for the service with police and fire retaining operational independence with their own chief officers and teams; and where fire functions are delegated to a single chief officer for police and fire. The fourth option is to leave things as they are.
Our fire fighters undoubtedly do incredible work and like our ambulance and fire officers often put their lives on the line to protect the public and what is being proposed is no criticism of them. But maintaining effective resourcing that will ensure community safety and maximising how our emergency services can work together has to be our priority, especially when public finances are under such pressure.
The direction for closer alignment of services nationally is clear, and I believe that Gloucestershire could be a perfect model for the changes proposed under the legislation.
It is a very comprehensive report which runs to 69 pages. It highlights many exciting opportunities for collaboration and you can read it here.
You can read my response to the report here.