Governance is transferring from Northamptonshire County Council, which means that the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner will now be responsible for the performance of the Fire and Rescue Service and will hold the chief fire officer to account in the same way he does the chief constable for the performance of the police.
The day-to-day business of the Fire Service will carry on as it is now, with its own chief officers retaining operational independence.
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said that the transfer of governance will help bring stability and autonomy to Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service. The transfer will also allow the two emergency services to work more closely together where that improves their performance and the service provided to the public.
Ways to bring together enabling services such as vehicle maintenance, IT, HR and finance to support both organisations are already being explored. This, alongside the potential sharing of resources and buildings, should help both organisations to make savings and ensure that the maximum amount of money is available to focus on frontline services.
Under the governance of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, the budget for the Fire Service will now be ring-fenced – it can only be used for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and not for any other purpose.
And the precept – the part of the council tax that goes towards the funding of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service – will be shown separately on council tax bills for the first time.
Stephen Mold, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I am excited that my team will be taking on the governance of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service that will bring much-needed stability to the service and enable it to plan for the future. I also believe that the effectiveness of both organisations can be enhanced through working more closely together.
“I have been visiting teams around the county to get an understanding of the issues facing frontline firefighters and staff and I look forward to working with the Chief Fire Officer on his plans to develop the service.”
Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey said: “I am very glad that the governance transfer is taking place on January 1 as it is the culmination of two years of hard work by the PCC and his staff, working together with senior officers from the Fire and Rescue service.
“This will provide Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service with a more solid financial foundation from which we can plan for the longer term. In addition it will allow us to work more closely with our Police colleagues for the benefit of the communities in the county.”
Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for transport, highways, environment and public protection, Cllr Ian Morris said: “We have long supported the move to bring Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service under the governance of the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner as it enables our local emergency services to further build on the blue light integration we’ve been working on for some time.
“As a local authority, we look forward to continuing to work with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service through our Trading Standards, public health and other areas of joint working.”