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Combination with Dorset

January 2016

It is now less than three months until the new Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service comes into being.

As of 1 April 2016, the local authority areas of Bournemouth, Dorset, Poole, Swindon and Wiltshire will be served by one combined Fire and Rescue Service with 50 fire stations.

Since the decision was made in December 2013 to pursue combination, a huge amount of work has been carried out, and the two existing Fire Authorities of Dorset and Wiltshire & Swindon have made a number of significant decisions, including:

  • The formal agreement to combine, made in November 2014;
  • The appointment of Darran Gunter as Chief Fire Officer (Designate) for the new Service;
  • The bringing together of the two Control rooms into one Service Control Centre, which has been operating from Potterne in Wiltshire since August last year;
  • Securing funding from the Government for transition costs and a new Safety Centre, which has a preferred location on the Wiltshire/Swindon border;
  • Agreement to base the new Service at a strategic hub within the Five Rivers Health and Wellbeing Centre in Salisbury; and
  • Approval of the new Service name and branding.

Members of the public may have already seen the new Service badge and name appearing on fire engines and other vehicles. This roll-out will continue between now and the end of March, together with a gradual introduction of new signage on fire stations and other Service buildings. 

October 2015

Work is continuing apace on delivering the new Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, and the proposed new structure will be released to staff during November.

It has been confirmed that the Service will be occupying part of Wiltshire Council’s Five Rivers Community Campus in Salisbury from April 2016.

The campus will be home to a new ‘strategic hub’, providing:

  • A central workplace for the management team and some support functions;
  • A number of flexible working options for our personnel, as part of the wider approach to working across Wiltshire and Dorset; and
  • A meeting place for teams, departments and the new Fire Authority.

The costs of establishing the new hub are being met from a Transformation Grant from the Government, which is also covering other set-up costs such as consolidating ICT systems.

The new hub is not a headquarters; we want to change the way that we work, to reflect how we will have staff across two counties, and that means moving away from the traditional structures of the past.

No decisions have yet been made about the long-term futures of any existing premises, as a detailed review of the whole Service estate across Wiltshire and Dorset is underway.

Over the coming few months, officers and Members will be working to agree a budget for the new Service, which will be agreed in February 2016.

Click here to see the papers for the Shadow Fire Authority.

August 2015

The first part of the new Service to formally combine is Fire Control, and this happened on 26 August 2015. All 999 emergency calls for the fire & rescue service from across Dorset and Wiltshire are now handled by the new Control Centre in Potterne.

Another significant landmark for the combined Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has been the adoption of a new visual identity. The intention is to start introducing the new identity to buildings and vehicles from the New Year; however, in the interests of efficiency, we have already started to remove badges, county names and straplines from vehicles in both counties as they go through our workshops for routine maintenance.

As part of the decision to combine, the Shadow Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority agreed to establish a 'strategic hub' in time for the new Service coming into being on 1 April 2016.

Discussions are on-going for a preferred site in the centre of Salisbury. The intention is for this strategic hub to provide:

  • a central workplace for the Service’s management team and some support functions;
  • a number of ‘hot desks’ for personnel from across the new Service, as part of a wider new approach to working across Wiltshire and Dorset; and
  • a meeting place for teams/departments and the new Fire Authority.

We are in the process of determining which members of staff might be permanently relocated to Salisbury from other parts of Wiltshire and Dorset. This is being done as part of developing the new organisational structure, and decisions have yet to be made.

Alongside the work to progress the new Salisbury site, both Wiltshire and Dorset FRSs are carrying out detailed reviews of their whole combined estate. It is too early to say what the long term future the Potterne and Poundbury HQs will be; however, the new Service is committed to achieving the best possible outcome for its staff and the communities it serves, while also being mindful of the financial pressures within which it is being formed.

June 2015

This month will see another significant step on the road to combination, with the first full meeting of the new Shadow Fire Authority on 23 June.

With just nine months before the new Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service comes into being, staff at both existing FRSs are busy developing structures, policies, procedures and systems.

Six workstreams have been established to direct this work, focusing on:

  • Governance
  • Strategic and organisational development
  • Safety centre, strategic hub and Joint Command and Control Centre (JCCC)
  • Service delivery and operational assets
  • People and organisational design
  • ICT and information management

Workstream updates are presented to the Shadow Policy & Resources Committee (formerly the Joint Committee) following the Shadow Authority meeting on 23 June). Click here to view the papers.

April 2015

Dorset and Wiltshire & Swindon Fire Authorities have successfully gained the support of the Secretary of State to combine and now start their one year journey in bringing together the two Fire & Rescue Services.

The combined Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service officially came into being in shadow status on 1 April 2015 and will replace the two existing Authorities on 1 April 2016. This combination will help to secure the future of the two Services and the continued safety of the public in the two counties. Click here for the latest news release.

The current Chief Fire Officer of Dorset, Darran Gunter, has been appointed as Chief Fire Officer for the combined Service from April 2016 and, as designate for the next year, he will continue to work closely with Wiltshire's Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones and the Chairs of the two Authorities to build a strong, safe and sustainable Fire & Rescue Service.

See also:

Shadow Fire Authority

Path to combination

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service - www.dorsetfire.gov.uk