16 January 2015
Fire and police services in Northamptonshire have launched a new joint response vehicle to “provide additional support to rural communities.” The Rural Intervention Vehicle (RIV) is part of an ongoing collaboration between Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The first phase of the 12-month trial is taking place in Oundle and surrounding villages, with the RIV staffed by a police officer and a fire officer who work with local colleagues to promote community safety, increase visibility in rural areas, develop closer links with the community, and identify and resolve local issues.
As part of their role, the RIV officers undertake tasks that support day-to-day policing and fire prevention in the area, including gathering intelligence to identify potential crime and fire risk, and assessing and supporting incidents such as minor fires and road traffic collisions.
In addition, they carry out high-visibility patrols in crime hotspots, give fire and personal safety talks to schools and community groups, and visit farms and local businesses to discuss concerns and offer crime and fire prevention advice.
In one incident the RIV team managed the scene when a car hit a building, carrying out an initial assessment without the need to call out a full fire crew. In another, they provided support to a crew attending a kitchen fire, allowing the main crew to be released early while they then carried out further checks and provided safety advice to the owner and neighbouring properties.
They also, following a number of haystack fires, visited farms to gather information and take a crime report, and were able to give fire prevention advice without the need for another crew to attend.
District Commander Chief Inspector Dennis Murray believes putting police and fire resources into a single vehicle has bought many benefits.
He said: “The introduction of the rural intervention team has been a very practical example of how police and fire can work together on the ground to the benefit of local people. The jointly crewed vehicle has improved the visibility and accessibility of police and fire services in rural areas, as well as enhancing support to local people in areas such as crime and fire prevention and dealing with ongoing local problems. The first phase of the pilot will play an important part in demonstrating what policing, working with other emergency services, could look like in the future.”
Area Manager Shaun Hallam added: “Many local issues can involve both fire and police services; having a team working together on a day-to-day basis means we can provide a quicker and more comprehensive response, from providing support and advice at an incident, working with the farming community to improve fire safety and security, to supporting local officers in finding solutions to an ongoing problem with anti-social behaviour.”
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.