AUDIO: The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service is to enter into a strategic partnership with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service on 1st April 2015 following final approval from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
The partnership was endorsed by the Isle of Wight Council at its Full Council meeting on 21st January and was given final approval in Hampshire on Friday.
The first of its kind in the country, the strategic partnership will bring significant benefits to both fire services. By pooling management resources, front line services will be retained while generating significant financial savings for both services over the coming years. The partnership is forecast to generate savings of almost £1.2 million for the Isle of Wight Council over the next three years.
Benefits to the Isle of Wight include increased capacity, resilience and sustainability, enhanced command and control capability and increased access to resources during large incidents, depending on availability. By encouraging innovation through the new command structure, the pool of knowledge and skills available to both services will be widened, creating career development opportunities for Island firefighters.
From 1st April, the Isle of Wight will share Hampshire Fire and Rescue’s Chief Fire Officer, Dave Curry (pictured), who will be accountable to the Isle of Wight Council as well as Hampshire Fire Authority. The Island’s current Chief Fire Officer, Steve Apter, will transfer to become the Assistant Chief Fire Officer within the new strategic partnership command structure based in Hampshire.
Locally, Mick Keenan will become the Local Senior Officer (LSO) with Justin Harden becoming Deputy Local Senior Officer (DLSO).
Throughout April the new Chief Fire Officer will visit all of the Island’s stations, speaking to all of the teams personally and gathering their views on the service.
Listen to Dave Curry introduce himself to Island Echo readers
Reassurances have been given that the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service will keep its identity and will remain accountable to the Isle of Wight Council, with the partnership not a precursor to a merger.
Councillor Phil Jordan, Executive member for public protection and PFI, said:
“This is an incredibly important milestone in the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service’s long and proud history. By taking this bold step, we are securing the Island’s fire service for years to come, making the Island safer for residents while securing the savings we need to create an efficient and sustainable service.
“I would like to thank the Steve Apter and his team for their hard work in bringing this historic partnership forward. Steve’s knowledge and expertise will be put to excellent use within the new senior command team, providing important continuity and local knowledge which is essential for the partnership.”
Chairman of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor Royston Smith, said:
“This partnership will bring significant benefits to both authorities, enabling us to continue delivering quality services for our residents. This is a historic day and we are proud to be the first fire and rescue services within the country to embark on such an innovative partnership, which I know will be a benchmark for others to aspire to.”
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.
Photographed: HFRS CFO Dave Curry, Cllr Royston Smith, Cllr Phil Jordan and IWFRS CFO Steve Apter
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