South Yorkshire's only joint fire and police station has gone operational for the first time.
Firefighters have started attending 999 calls from the station in Maltby, Rotherham after work to modify the existing police station on Byford Road to accommodate fire service vehicles and staff was completed last month.
The old fire station on Maltby High Street has now closed. The project won Government Transformation Funding of £560,000 and means South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue can share running costs, enabling funding to be targeted at frontline services. The move has shifted fire service resources around a mile closer to the east side of Rotherham, which traditionally accounts for a greater volume of emergency incidents compared to lower risk areas to the east of Maltby.
It will also improve services by making it easier for police and firefighters to share knowledge, skills and expertise when tackling common issues, like anti-social behaviour and road traffic collisions. In a similar way, it will help both organisations to reach the most vulnerable members of the community.
Police & Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings, Chief Fire Officer James Courtney and Chief Superintendent Rob Odell
Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said: "This new facility is the first of its kind in South Yorkshire and represents the best possible, physical example of our commitment to work more closely with our emergency service partners.
"By working alongside each other under one roof, we think the move will benefit both organisations by improving how we work together to solve problems we both face, which can only help to improve the quality of the service we offer to local people."
Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: "The Fire Authority has always been clear that collaboration should be about more than badges on buildings and saving money, with local people at the heart of any of the decisions we make. With this in mind, I am pleased to see the completion of the first joint police and fire station in South Yorkshire - not just as a symbol of the joint work the fire service is leading on with the police, but also because of the benefits I expect it to bring to both organisations and the community itself."
Chief Superintendent Rob Odell, district commander for Rotherham, said: "I've no doubt that this joint venture will help us to provide a more coordinated service to the public, particularly on issues dealt with by both services. This provides us with an excellent opportunity to better share information and to help meet the demands of modern policing, where working alongside our partners is vital in meeting the needs of our communities."
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: "The joint fire and police station at Maltby offers a number of positive opportunities for the police and fire services to work together and collaborate. This new cost-effective way of working will allow agencies to share information and work more effectively together. The building will help reduce overheads to both organisations at a time when the taxpayers want to see their money being spent on the safety of South Yorkshire residents and not on buildings and their running costs."
The Policing & Crime Act 2016 has placed a new, statutory duty on all three emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness. In South Yorkshire, fire crews already attend hundreds of 'medical break-ins' every year, where they gain access to properties where people are thought to be in need of urgent medical attention, but where ambulance service paramedics cannot get to them. This work used to be carried out by the police.
A Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) team has been set up in Sheffield which sees fire and police staff visit hundreds of homes in the city to reduce fire risk in properties, improve security and help people who have fallen and contribute to reducing the risk of falls.
Lifewise is an interactive safety centre which is jointly run by the police and fire services and opened in 2011 to deliver education packages to more than 20,000 local people every year. Work is also underway to improve the way the police and fire services work together in several other areas, including their community safety and prevention work.