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19 February 2016
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in Devon will train as retained firefighters in a bid by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue service to reduce costs and improve public safety.
PCSOs will carry pagers and respond to fire calls whilst they are on duty as part of the trial, which is scheduled to run for two years, and will support seven fire stations in the area.
The trial comes at a time when the Home Office, which assumed control of fire and rescue services earlier this year, aims to increase the collaboration between emergency services.
DSFRS area manager Neil Blackburn said: “As well as providing a better service and reducing costs, this will also help us to provide fire response cover in communities where we have struggled to recruit sufficient retained officers who can provide cover during office hours because of their own work commitments, so it really does provide both services and the community with significant benefits.
“We feel that the role of a PCSO fits really well with that of locally-based fire officers and have had a great deal of interest from PCSOs locally which is really encouraging.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall Tony Hogg added: ‘The police service is very clear on where it wants to go and this scheme fits in to the changing vision of the police.
“The police and fire roles in the community can complement each other to address vulnerability and provide a better service to the public.’