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Collaborative work is already “deeply embedded” in the fire service in Lichfield and Burntwood, according to the chairman of Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Authority. The fire service has agreed to look into proposals to merge some back office functions with Staffordshire Police. There had been criticism from Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant who claimed he had “lost confidence” in the Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) over its reluctance to consider a merger. But the FRA has since said it will investigate the possibility of combining some functions with other emergency services. Cllr Len Bloomer, chair of the FRA, insisted there had never been a block on working with other organisations. “Collaborative working is not a new thing for the fire service or FRA,” he said. “It is deeply embedded in our culture and features heavily in our past, present and future. “Partnership working has been a key to our success in reducing the number of fires and other emergencies we attend as well as reducing the number of fire casualties to an all-time low – at the same time as saving £6million. “We strongly believe that we and our partners can be far more effective and deliver better outcomes by working together for the good of our communities. “To this end, the FRA had already agreed in July that a panel of senior officers would be established to fully explore the risks and benefits of integration and collaboration with Staffordshire Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and other organisations. Since then, those officers have been working with the police and the OPCC to try to further this work and achieve the best possible results for our residents. “This has been an ongoing process and the fire service and the FRA will continue striving to work with partners as appropriate.” The initial proposals of merging police and fire back office functions could be expanded, Cllr Bloomer added. “While looking at ways of collaboration with the police the OPCC, we are also mindful that they are not the only partners that we should work with,” he said. “We have already formed extremely strong and productive partnerships across the public sector, including the health and social care arena, ambulance and local councils to name but a few. “Many of these collaborations are ground-breaking and have been recognised as best practice on a national level. We believe that by tackling problems at the root cause, with other organisations where relevant, we can address inequalities and make Staffordshire the safest place to live, work and visit. “A blinkered approach to collaboration will not achieve that aim which is why we are committed to exploring all possible opportunities with a wide range of partners. “The bottom line is not simply about cost savings, it is about improving the quality of life, health, safety and wellbeing of our communities.”


Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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