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An independent report commissioned by the Government claims that fire services across the South could save millions of pounds of public money if they worked together more closely.
The review says calls-outs and fire deaths have dropped, while spending and the number of firefighters have stayed much the same. The report has been welcomed by fire chiefs in Hampshire and West Sussex.
But the Fire Brigades Union has called it a "fig leaf" to hide further cuts which could put lives at risk. Malcolm Shaw reports.
A new Government report into the future of firefighting in the UK has been published. The document's conclusions infer that fire services across the South East could be merged or forced to become part of a national brigade.
The report says that its recommendations could save two hundred million pounds. The Fire Brigades Union has reacted with anger - saying cuts will cost lives. John Ryall's report is followed by an interview with the head of Kent's Fire & Rescue Service.
The fire and rescue service in England needs to be "transformed" to become more efficient, according to an independent report commissioned by the Government.
Sir Ken Knight, the former chief fire and rescue adviser behind the review, believes that a 40 per cent drop in incidents over the last decade means the service needs to adapt.
But the Fire Brigades Union said his recommendations are a cover for more cuts.
Tom Savvides reports:
Sir Ken Knight, former chief Fire and Rescue adviser for England who carried out an independent report on the services, told ITV's Daybreak that his review was a "good news story."
He said: "Why is it that one fire service can cost twice as much as another, even though if, per head of population ... it's in a very similar area?
"If those above the average cost just as much as the average, which provide really good fire services, there is £200 million to be saved.
"So it's right that these questions are asked, and that it's answered and debated by the fire and rescue service leaders themselves."
Sir Ken Knight, former chief Fire and Rescue adviser for England who carried out an independent report on the services, said "much more can be done" to improve efficiency.
He said: "As a firefighter for over 40 years I know the Fire and Rescue Service in and out. I know firefighters care deeply about public safety and do the best possible job.
"I've seen their capacity to adapt, even in the most trying of circumstances, but my report highlights that there is much more that can be done by the service leaders to make the service as effective and efficient as possible.
"My starting point was to maintain the quality of the service and to protect the safety of the public and firefighters. As I carried out this review I spoke with many services and found that there is widespread variation in the running costs and management decisions.
This presents a real opportunity to get to grips with what is happening and to save public money. Government and the 46 fire and rescue authorities should use it to decide how to transform the service to reflect the modern and safer world we live in today."
General secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack said the independent review into the services was "just a fig leaf for slashing our fire and rescue service to bits".
The Chief Executive of the Kent Fire & Rescue Service, Ann Millington, has responded to an independent review which found that the service in England could save up to £200 million pounds if it were operated more efficiently.
Reforming or merging the south's fire services could save 'millions of pounds'.
An independent review says call outs have dropped significantly over the last ten years but there has been no reduction in spending or the number of firefighters.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, alone, needs to make cuts of seven million pounds over the next four years and has welcomed today's report.
Oxford and Berkshire will merge next year to save money while Kent Fire Service has already carried out major changes.