A SINGLE fire control centre could be created to serve Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire as part of the new alliance formed by the neighbouring fire and rescue services.

The alliance was signed off by the governing bodies of the two brigades in October, after they begun sharing some fire control, risk management and IT functions in late 2018. It was agreed to add procurement as a fourth focus for joint working.

A new report published ahead of a meeting of Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority next week says the alliance is making good progress in each of these areas, with cost savings already being made.

The report, by chief fire officer Rod Hammerton, says four options have been identified for how a shared fire control function could be adopted by the two services.

It is hoped that a single fire control system would bolster fire control capabilities in the event of a major incident.

The report says: “Since the project commenced there has been significant learning from the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire and the Manchester Evening News Arena bomb attack.

“This learning has informed the project on the critical needs associated with effectively managing major incidents in terms of capacity, use of technology and inter organisation communications and coordination.

“Other recent events such as Covid-19 are also providing valuable information on how to ensure resilience of a critical function.

One of the options being considered is to continue to operate as two independent control rooms, while another option is to “pursue a more regional solution with both services partnering with a third party”.

Fire control could alternatively be consolidated at a single site, with the fourth option being to operate as one control over two sites.

The report says: “A joint resilience exercise is also being planned to determine the current level of capacity and capability to deal with a significant incident, such as a highrise residential fire in the light of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry findings but this has been postponed due to both services now having been in Major Incident status, due to flooding followed by the pandemic, since March 2020.

“It is anticipated learning from this exercise will help to shape the requirements of any new technology and ways of working.”

The report also details cost saving opportunities presented by the two services working together on procurement.

It says: “Joint procurement not only helps to achieve cost and process savings, but also encourages closer working and sharing of procured resources, which in turn helps to reduce the procurement demand further.”

It says the two services had made a joint saving of £308,000 across eight projects delivered prior to the formal establishment of the Fire Alliance.

A further saving of £186,000 per service has been made through the joint purchase of three new Incident Command Units, with one stationed in each of the three counties.

The report concludes: “The alliance is taking positive steps forward and is become embedded in the day to day workings of both services.

“This change is being carried out at a sustainable pace which enables the people of both organisations to understand and buy in to the collaboration.

“Both proposed Integrated Risk Management Plans for each service provide examples of how the services are coming together by aligning department aims where service delivery and public safety can be enhanced.

“The alliance continues to learn from the challenges other alliances both in fire and beyond have faced and remains focussed on enhancing capacity, resilience and public safety.”

The report will be discussed at a remote meeting of Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority on Wednesday.