This article is part of a longer speech that PCC Martin Surl made at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) summit in Westminster, on the 17th November 2016.

When I came into office as Gloucestershire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner, it was not my ambition to oversee the fire service as well.

But when you consider the benefits we’ve seen in terms of openness, accountability and transparency in respect of the police service, if that can be applied to the fire service then it is an opportunity we should explore.

In areas similar to Gloucestershire, where police and fire share the same geographical foot print; where our headquarters are on the same compound; our control rooms are divided only by a glass wall and the chief fire officer already leads on one of my key priorities, I think I have a duty to explore what further benefits could be had.

Undoubtedly, in many areas fire services are well run, but PCCs are being given the mandate by the Government to investigate and put the local case for or against change. To do that, we need an honest and open discussion about what benefits reform may or may not have, something the county council has so far refused to have with me, which is very frustrating.

I asked Brandon Lewis, the Policing and Fire Services Minister, to direct the current budget holders of fire to work with me and others to provide sufficient information for that assessment to be made and he says he will. The guiding principle has to be what is the best approach to providing the best possible fire service for the public whilst securing its long term financial stability.

I think the public do find it unacceptable that in 2016 when they call 999, the first question they are asked is what service do you require rather than how can we help. The outcome can sometimes be three uncoordinated responses to the same incident. That cannot be right and is something we must address.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl at the second annual APCC and NPCC Conference