21 July 2014

Public meetings will be held this week to discuss the future of the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Despite having made savings of £3.2 million since 2010, the authority must save a further £900,000 over the next six years.

One of the proposals is to close the Shrewsbury-based control room and merge it with the Hereford and Worcester 999 control centre. This could potentially half the number of staff needed across both areas.

Meetings will take place in Bridgnorth, Telford and Shrewsbury this week.

Concerns about loss of life have already been raised at meetings held in Ludlow, Oswestry and Market Drayton. There are also fears of losing vital local knowledge in directing police, fire and ambulance to an emergency from a large control centre where 999 operatives do not know the area.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Johnson commented: “Our fire and rescue service is changing and we value the opinions of people living and working in the county to help shape the future of our service.

“Delivering more for less is an expectation for all public sector services and at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service we want to provide the excellent service that the public expects but for less money.”

Other fire services have already merged control centres in a bid to save money. East and West Sussex fire and rescue services amalgamated their control centre services into one location at Haywards Heath on 21 May.

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.