Fire services could 'save millions'

Reforming or merging the south's fire services could save millions of pounds.

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  1. Malcolm Shaw

Meridian West: Report into the future of fire fighting

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.

But the Fire Brigades Union has called it a "fig leaf" to hide further cuts which could put lives at risk. Malcolm Shaw reports.

  1. John Ryall

Meridian East: Report on future of fire fighting

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.

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  1. National

Fire service needs to be 'transformed'

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:

  1. National

Fire service review a 'good news story'

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."

Sir Ken Knight speaking on ITV's Daybreak. Credit: ITV Daybreak

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."

  1. National

'Much more can be done' to improve services efficiency

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.

Firefighters tackle a blaze in Peckham, London. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

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."

  1. National

Review 'just a fig leaf for slashing services to bits'

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".

David Cameron has promised to protect frontline services. That has been exposed as a lie over the past three years as the fire service has faced the biggest cuts in its history.

It is not just the Fire Brigades Union warning about this. Increasingly others in the fire service, including chief officers, are concerned over our ability to deliver this essential service.

Fire stations are being closed and fire engines are being axed. Last year alone a further 1,200 firefighter jobs were cut.

All these cuts mean a poorer service for the public. They mean waiting longer for a fire engine if you have a fire or other emergency. Ken Knight is attempting to bury all these facts in order to justify further cuts in the Government's forthcoming spending review.

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Should fire services merge?

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.

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