Members of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority (WMFRA) are to set up a working group to explore how West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) should be governed in the future.
The decision was taken at today’s (27 June) meeting of the Authority. The working group’s findings are expected to be reported back to WMFRA by February 2017.
A report to members outlined the West Midlands’ fast-changing political landscape, bringing new powers for Police and Crime Commissioners and devolution of other powers to the new West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and an elected Mayor.
The working group, which will have an independent Chair, will closely consider the Government’s call for continuing collaboration between the ‘blue light’ services in the interests of public safety, efficiency and value for money. It will also examine the potential for even closer working with neighbouring fire and rescue services, including combination.
Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach said: "We have a proven track record of assessing evidence and risk to ensure that we deliver services to our communities in the best possible way.
"It is this approach that has allowed us, in spite of unprecedented financial challenges, to revolutionise our service delivery. This has enabled us to maintain our commitment to a 5-minute attendance standard, as well as our daily focus on prevention and protection – to the benefit of West Midlands residents and businesses.
"We can see real advantages of continuing to strengthen connections with the West Midlands Combined Authority through leadership and collaborative service delivery, which would complement how we’re organised and how we deliver our services. It is also important that we assess fully and objectively all of the opportunities open to us.”
Councillor John Edwards, Chair of WMFRA, said: "It’s important that we gather evidence on the options available now, as well as those that will develop in the future.
"West Midlands Fire Service currently has the best response times in the country to life-threatening incidents, which we want to safeguard. We deliver a range of health and wellbeing services to our local councils, such as a falls response to vulnerable people, and developing this work further is essential.
"We also want to ensure ongoing accountability and scrutiny of the service on behalf of our communities. The working group will consider the evidence around the options that will best support and expand our service delivery and outcomes.”