CFO GunterDorset and Wiltshire & Swindon Fire Authorities have begun the one year countdown to their combination after successfully securing the support of the public, constituent authorities and the Secretary of State.

The new Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Authority officially came into being in shadow status at the start of April 2015 and will replace the two existing Authorities on 1 April 2016.

Darran Gunter (pictured) has been appointed as the Chief Fire Officer of the new 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.

He said: “I am very proud to have been appointed as the Chief Fire Officer for the future combined Service and look forward to working with the two authorities, our staff and our community to shape the structure, direction and priorities of the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service.

"As we come together over the next year, we will be focused on ensuring we maintain our emergency service that is responsive to the local risks and needs and in continuing to protect the people living in, working in and travelling through our two counties."

This combination is the first of its kind in the fire sector and will help to secure the future direction and development of both Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Services as well as the continued safety of the public in the two counties.

Cllr Rebecca Knox, Chair of Dorset Fire Authority added: “This combination comes after extensive development, research and consultation with politicians, members of the public and our members of staff. We would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation over the last year, which showed overwhelming support for the combination as an option for us to reduce our costs during these times of austerity whilst maintaining a professional emergency service.

“The combination will make substantial savings of between £4-6 million per year, which will help us to protect frontline services as much as possible and continue to develop the services we provide to the community in the most efficient way. The combination will allow the two authorities to come together to build a safe, strong and resilient combined Fire & Rescue Service fit for the future.”