The fire service has published details of dozens of areas of joint work with the police and other emergency services, to mark a year since a new law came into force. South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) has unveiled a list of 30 ways it is working more closely with the region's 999 services, from training and community safety work, to shared teams, equipment and buildings.
The Policing & Crime Act 2017 received Royal Assent on 31 January last year, placing a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
The bulk of the collaborative work undertaken by SYFR both before and after the Act came into force involves South Yorkshire Police, although the fire service says it is also working closely with the ambulance service and other local fire and rescue services.
Highlights include a new shared fire and police station in Maltby which went live at the end of last year and a jointly delivered Princes Trust Team Programme, which has helped to transform the lives of more than 120 young people in less than two years. Other, long standing collaborations include Lifewise, which is an interactive safety centre in Hellaby, Rotherham which has been jointly run by the police and fire services since 2011 to deliver education packages to more than 20,000 local people every year, including nearly every Year 6 pupil in South Yorkshire.
Firefighters also now attend hundreds of 'medical break-in' incidents each year. The arrangement sees firefighters provide humanitarian assistance at emergencies where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot reach them, for example when they are locked indoors. The work used to be carried out by police officers, so is helping to save thousands of hours of police time each year.
SYFR Deputy Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: "Whilst there is now a legal duty on all emergency services to work more closely together, for us the real benefits of collaboration with the police, ambulance and other fire services are to the communities we serve. Whilst we still believe each of the emergency services should retain their own unique skills, brand and specialisms, we want to show local people that we are serious about providing them with the most efficient and most effective service possible. That means seeking out opportunities where we can deliver our work better or save money by working alongside our 999 partners."
Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said: "The Government has invested over £88million in local blue light collaboration projects since 2013, including in South Yorkshire, because they present a real opportunity for emergency services to maximise available resources, enhance local resilience and improve the service delivered to the public. I am pleased to hear of the work in South Yorkshire, and look forward to hearing of further collaboration in the future."
South Yorkshire Police DCC Mark Roberts said: "We have worked closely with our colleagues in South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue for many years now, though this last year has seen our partnership become more formally recognised under the Policing and Crime Act. We are committed to supporting our emergency service colleagues in such a wide range of initiatives and activities with the intention of making South Yorkshire safer for all who live and work here."
Fire Authority Chair Linda Burgess, said: "The Fire Authority and its members wholeheartedly support the provision of a strong fire and rescue service, which includes pursuing close working with other emergency services where there is a clear benefit to local people. We're pleased to see the service continuing its strong progress in this area."
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said: "We have begun to show in South Yorkshire what can be done to improve services to the public by collaborative working. We need to go on from here, with the increased energy and determination, thinking of new and innovative ways in which the Fire and Rescue and Police services in particular can work better together. This is why I, as Police and Crime Commissioner, have become a member of the Fire Authority."