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17 February 2017
Essex could become the first county to have the Police and Crime Commissioner assume control of the local fire service.
Roger Hirst, Essex Police and Crime Commissioner, has launched a public consultation on the plans which could save the council upwads of £20 million.
“At the moment the collaboration between police and fire has been tactical, it's been fairly short-term and where we can, whereas this will mean we can go more strategic, and think longer term about how we can have the right vehicles in the right places, the right officers in the right places, and make sure the control room is properly co-ordinated," said Mr Hirst.
Essex fire and rescue service is currently governed by the Essex Fire Authority, made up of 25 elected members.
The PCC says the proposal would strengthen the emergency services - leading to improvements in effectiveness and delivering up to 23 million pounds in savings which would be put back into frontline services.
However, Essex Fire Brigades Union has reacted cautiously to the proposals.
Alex Chinn-Shaw, from the union, said: “Over a number of years the fire service has worked closely with their communities and we've got a level of trust.
“We're welcome in almost every community in Essex and that trust, and that welcome isn't always extended to the police.
“What we'd hate to see is if the good work we do in the communities is somehow prevented because we're linked too close to the police and that trust in our communities goes.”
A public consultation on the proposals has been launched until 10 May.