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New fire brigade after 67 years from 1 April

(January 07, 2016)


WARMINSTER'S five county councillors were given the opportunity of asking the boss of the new combined fire brigade some searching questions in public on Thursday evening.

On 1 April this year 67 years of history will come to an end when the county loses its own fire brigade as it merges with its southern neighbour to form the new Dorset and Wiltshire  Fire and Rescue Service.

The new grouping is a marriage of convenience forced on both counties by a major reduction in government grant.

It should yield significant savings and will help preserve the sharp end of the service which involves fire and accident prevention as well as emergency response. In some areas the fire officers also take on an important first responders role when they can be on the scene of an emergency with medical help before others arrive.

On Thursday the area board at Warminster's Civic Centre were shown a video by the new chief fire officer Darran Gunter, who was able to bat off a few easy questions from some members of the public.

Cllr Steve Dancey, said: "I would have much preferred a shorter video presentation and longer time to question the chief officer. The film we were shown would not have been out of place being shown at any similar event around the country and had very little to say about the concerns many will have when the merger arrives.

"We want to be assured that the response and quality of service we have enjoyed from the Wiltshire brigade since 1948 will be continued.

"Re-organisations can and will lead to efficiency savings according to the bean counters but can have unforeseen consequences.

"You only need look at what happened to the police service in Scotland when forces were merged there.

"In one incident police failed to attend a fatal car crash incident on the A9 for 3 days, so it is reasonable for some to have merger worries.

"The fire service in Wiltshire knows the county very well but there is a danger that a larger brigade might not be so well acquainted with its patch. "

"Also where will the new operation be based and if not here what will happen to the wonderful facility at Potterne?"

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