The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has reacted with dismay at the inclusion in the chancellor’s published autumn statement of plans for legislation to be brought forward for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to run fire and rescue services.
The FBU has raised concerns throughout the year about such a move on the basis that it will put financial savings ahead of public safety. It will also put an end to the independence that firefighters consider vital in order to carry out their jobs. This includes the ability to engage with local communities and gain access to peoples’ homes. It is widely understood, including among senior police officers, that the roles of the two services are very different, and that the ability of the fire and rescue service to engage with local communities in new ways, over the past decade, has largely been due to public awareness of this difference.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The power to arrest, which is a core feature of the work of police officers, is never going to mix with the independent, humanitarian service firefighters provide. This move will do nothing to expand the role of firefighters in any useful way, as some of the other areas of joint working does, such as various initiatives with the ambulance service. We fear the public’s trust will be severely dented by this move.”
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