England

Two fire services agree to closer working

Hereford and Worcester and Warwickshire fire services have agreed to work more closely together following budget cuts.

Recommendations to "align" processes in some areas have been agreed, the Hereford and Worcester service said.

It said this could include fire safety, technical support and training and development.

An interim report will be given to both fire authorities in the summer, with a final report submitted by late next year.

'Better way'

The services already collaborate in a number of areas, including supporting each other during periods of high demand or major incidents.

The Hereford and Worcester service said both services had agreed reduced spending in their budgets up to 2016-17 and an initiative called Project Arrow had sought to respond to challenges faced beyond 2017 in anticipation of "tight financial conditions" continuing.

The project recommended the services "commit to developing an operational collaboration" which would "see the alignment of processes and policies in a number of operational areas", the Hereford and Worcester service said.

Greater integration in the future would also be considered, it said.

Derek Prodger, chairman of Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority, said: "Although it is probably some time away, the more we align our practices now, the better we will be at working together if or when any closer collaboration occurs."

Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe said: "We should herald Project Arrow as the start of a better way for both services to work.

"It's early stages, which we are discussing now, will establish how the fire services of both Warwickshire and of Hereford and Worcester can help the other to be stronger and more resilient without compromising their own capacities."

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