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Dorset and Wiltshire fire services set to merge

By DavidBol  |  Posted: December 13, 2013

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Dorset Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter, chairman of Dorset Fire Authority Councillor Rebecca Knox, chairman of Wiltshire Fire Authority Councillor Graham Payne and Wilthsire Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones.

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FIRE authorities from Dorset and Wiltshire are pushing forward with plans to work together in order to save money.

A recent report by Sir Ken Knight recommended authorites look at potential mergers - with both Dorset Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) and Witlshire Fire and Rescue Service (WFRS) believing they face similar challenges.

Darran Gunter, Chief Fire Officer for DFRS said: "Our priority is to protect the services we provide to the public. In order to protect frontline services to the best of our ability, we have concluded that the best solution is for thetwo organisations to combine.

"Together, we can achieve so much more and combination will give us an opportunity to explore new ways of working.

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"As well as achieving significant savings, this will give us greater resilience and allow us to continue providing an efficient and effective fire and rescue service to our local communities."

At recent meetings of both fire authorities, it was established that both Dorset and Wiltshire are predomiantly rural counties - with the majority of fire cover provided by on-call firefighters.

The demographics and local risks, such as the high number of thatched properties are also similar. Both authorities also expect their government funding halved bty 2019.

Councillor Rebecca Knox, chairman of Dorset Fire Authority and Councillor Graham Payne, chairman of Wiltshire Fire Authority released a joint statement saying: "Both services have and continue to make substantial savings, but the level of grant we receive from government will continue to decline.

"In order to minimise any impact on the level of response we provide our communities, members of both fire authorities have agreed to explore closer working with a view to the combination in 2016.

"We will also be consulting on the decision to move to a Joint Command and Contro lCentre in Potterne, Wiltshire in 2015.

"We appreciate that this will be an uncertain time for staff and we will be working closely with them and representative bodies over the coming months."

What do you think about a potential merger between fire services in Dorset and Wiltshire? Leave a comment below to have your say.

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