To: All Members Wiltshire FBU
PROPOSAL TO COMBINE DORSET AND WILTSHIRE FIRE & RESCUE SERVICES
You will now be aware that the Fire Authorities in Wiltshire and Dorset have both voted to agree a proposed combination and a combination order will now be submitted to Government. Subject to the political process, this will bring to an end our Fire & Rescue Service as we currently recognise it, with the intention of a new combined Service to come into being from 1st April 2016.
The FBU represented Firefighters at both meetings of the respective Fire Authorities and made a full, locally based submission to each of the consultation processes. We have received a great deal of correspondence and input from Authority members in response to our submission and the Chair of Wiltshire Fire Authority has now given a public commitment that a future Service will retain “full strength frontline services, a full suite of fire stations and no redundancy of firefighters.” This is a commitment which we will hold any future Authority to.
Now that this decision is made, we will be meeting with our FBU colleagues in Dorset at the earliest opportunity to instigate a programme of joint working which will place the views and needs of Firefighters across both Brigades at the heart of our work going forward. We will be writing to the Fire Authority asking that a process be set up as early as possible in order to discuss future working practices, contractual arrangements, policies, operational guidance/response and all the many other issues that will need to be agreed for any future service. The same processes that we are currently undergoing with regards to the Control merger.
Although this decision, brought about by politically motivated funding cuts, will mean an end to Wiltshire FRS, at least we now know where our future lies after all the uncertainty. I want to reassure you that the FBU will continue to fight for proper funding, both now and in the future, and we will demand that any future Fire & Rescue Service be driven by the operational needs of a life saving emergency service, that does not come at the expense of, or is detrimental to, the professionals that work within it.
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