Members of the Isle of Wight Council are being asked to consider an innovative and ground breaking partnership with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) which could provide an enhanced fire service on the Island while saving the local authority almost £1.2 million over the next three years.
Members will consider the partnership proposal at Full Council on Wednesday 21st January 2015.
The Isle of Wight Council first identified the need to consider combined or jointly managed arrangements with another fire authority in its 2014 to 2017 corporate plan with Full Council agreeing to explore options that ensure we maintained a safe, effective and efficient fire and rescue service at a reduced cost at its meeting in February 2014.
A full business case for entering into a strategic partnership with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has now been developed, which as well as identifying savings for the council, enables significant benefits for the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (IWFRS), including:
– Enhanced command and control capability.
– Increased capacity, resilience and sustainability.
– Increased access to HFRS resources during large incidents, dependent on availability.
– Financial savings for the local authority.
– Retention of IWFRS identity, including full Isle of Wight political control.
– Increased personal development opportunities for staff.
Under the proposals set out in the business case, the HFRS chief fire officer and his team would provide strategic leadership and management for all of the IWFRS. Subject to consultation, the Island’s current chief fire officer, area manager and group manager would be transferred under TUPE arrangements to HFRS. The area and group manager would maintain a physical presence on the Island with the area manager assuming the role of ‘local senior officer’.
The business case has been developed in consultation with the Fire Brigades Union, Retained Firefighters Union and Unison who support the partnership approach which minimises the impact on frontline service delivery. Staff, partner agencies and relevant stakeholders have also been consulted during the development of the proposal.
The innovative approach taken by both fire services has been praised by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which has been briefed on the proposal. It is supportive of this locally led approach which would be the first partnership arrangement of its kind in the fire and rescue service nationwide.
Councillor Phil Jordan, Executive member for public protection and PFI, said:
“This partnership proposal creates a real opportunity to further develop the Island’s fire and rescue service, while contributing to the council’s overall savings target. By sharing management expertise, we are able to retain all of our local fire stations and maintain frontline firefighter posts while enhancing services for residents and providing career progression opportunities for fire service staff across the Island.
“The business case is very thorough and I am confident that this partnership, should it be approved by the council and agreed by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, will build on the excellent service the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service already provides for our community.”
The report to be considered by Full Council, along with the business case, can be found here: https://www.iwight.com/Meetings/committees/mod-council/21-1-15/Paper%20E.pdf.