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Wondering what everyone’s thoughts would be if there was an agenda to amalgamate all of the fire services in the UK? It seems that fire services are now leaning towards amalgamation in one form or another with the Scottish and Dorset & Wiltshire unions being recently formed. Obviously we had a National Fire Service during the war and for a few years after so it’s nothing new exactly.

I for one am keen on the traditions and identity of individual fire services but I guess this could be preserved somehow in the event of such a reorganisation?

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Probably still end up with four Jamie as the fire service is a devolved matter, so there would have to be mergers across England,  Wales though has there already been moves in that direction? Scotland has already done it and there would be no change for us in Northern Ireland.

A good start would be a return to National Standards of Fire Cover and the old rank structure.

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I did think that Keith but I don't know enough about devolution as I should do.

If you asked me one or two years ago I wouldn't have wanted it. But now I have the experience of having served in two metropolitan brigades, I am actually in favour of such a move. I would really like to hear from firefighters up in Scotland to see how the amalgamation has been for them and what the benefits and drawbacks have been so far.

I just feel that such a move would enable fire services to save enough money to avoid reducing actual fire cover, although the cynic in me thinks maybe a merger would actually lead to less fire stations and appliances...

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In Scotland by all accounts the service is being decimated by year on year cuts, control rooms closed, pumps are being put off the run daily, ff's rumoured to be offered around 16% increase in wage in exchange for wholesale changes to T&C, new duty systems, station closures, appliances cuts, medical emergency response, MTFA, 4+4 crewing, responding trips slips and falls, enhanced home fire safety visits... The idea was to protect the frontline but the service simply cannot afford to function after the end of this year.

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As far as I'm aware Scotland is the only place in the uk offering fundamental  changes to the structure of the fire service and what it does in exchange for a significant increases in pay. More directly related to the merger there has been occasions where due to control rooms being amalgamated the wrong pumps have been sent to incidents from further away stations whilst nearby appliances remain unmoved. There has been issues with pay in legacy brigade areas where firefighters with certain skill sets were being paid more money than in other areas, SOP's took a while to be standardised, crewing arrangements across legacy services were different for example old Strathclyde until two years ago had 5+5 crewing in the glasgow area and until very recently 5+5 on certain stations with specialist appliances and 6 on ARP's, there is a whole litany of different issues that have been raised and there will undoubtedly be folks on here who can offer a more detailed vision of what's happening than me! 

Edited by BM96
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Yes I'd definitely be interested in the changes if you want to PM me. But regarding what you've mention so far it does sound familiar to what we have just been through in England. We had co-responding, MTFA, falls response and a host of other things that were being implemented, except our pay offer was well below par, certainly a lot less than 16%! Needless to say it was backed and all those workstreams are on the backburner for now. It would be interesting to know if you had any additional caveats attached to your offer.

In regards to the organisational stuff you mentioned, I guess a lot of it is to be expected. When LFB changed their mobilising system there were a whole host of issues similar to what you just described. Inevitably there will be teething issues, I guess I want to know about the issues that are being implemented on purpose 9_9

I think pay would be a massive issue. Not just renumeration for your work and skills but things like payments for going detached/standbys etc.

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With the Joint National Fire Partnership it wont be a million miles from being a possibility. If a load of services are already using the same SOPs then why not share in further  PPE/appliance/equipment purchases. Before you know it the only thing to change would be the badge on the kit. 

Going through the Dorset and Wilts merger it is almost like the opposite of a divorce. Both parties wanting to keep their methods and what they know. When in fact the middle ground is a brilliant starting point as long as both sides are happy  to be flexible. Thankfully it hasn't taken to long for us where the only real differences are in areas where we still have contracts (IT systems, PPE etc). But these are being dealt with either end with a plan to have the service using the same.

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We've had one before let's not forget! Albeit in slightly more fraught times. Anyhow...

I think it would be a good idea ultimately, but a mammoth undertaking and the economics would have to be there to warrant it. It might be easier to group regionally in the way the ambulances do (think SeCamb, EEAS). We already do a lot of things shared such as PPE buying and brigades have already successfully merged (Scotland, D&W cases in point).

We were discussing this today at work. We are contractors for the Ministry of Defence and half of us are retained with two different brigades. When training we sometimes end up hybridising between Kent, East Sussex and DFRMO (MoD) procedures. Standardization of all the little SOPs and terminology nuances between brigades would be great.

However you run the risk, especially with big organizations, that silly aspects can be written into policy for the sake of standardization that is then very difficult to change. DFRMO definatley have experienced this. Some procedures are hideously impractical but as it is pretty much a unique beast there is little outside pressure to change (privatization may change this but that's another story).

With larger amalgamated brigades you could still get economies of scale for things like gear and ppe, while still having different other organizations to share best practice with.

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