Suffolk and Cambridgeshire fire service merger moves a step closer

A merger of fire services in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire has moved a step closer after a new report was drawn up highlighting the benefits and risks of the proposed move.

If the merger is approved after a consultation, a new 'super-brigade' covering the two counties could be formed within the next two years, consisting of more than 1,000 full-time and retained firefighters.

Suffolk County Council's cabinet is set to examine the proposed the merger at a meeting next Tuesday.

The report recommends a business case for the full collaboration, seen as the best way forward, be prepared by the autumn.

Despite cutting the number of its full-time uniformed staff by 50 and reducing its operating costs across the board, Suffolk fire service is still under pressure to make more budget savings.

It has already reduced the number of full-time firefighters from 275 to 224 and must make a further 15 reductions.

Cambridgeshire currently has 272 full-time firefighters out of a workforce of 789.

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The services already share a control room.

In an options appraisal report which will be put to cabinet members next week, head of service development Roger Hopkins gave the 'full collaboration' route the strongest backing.

He said: 'A voluntary combination between the two services offers the greatest potential benefits of the options considered.'

If approved by the cabinet a decision by the full council on the merger will be made in early 2013 after a business case is developed by the council.

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