Fire and rescue services in South and West Yorkshire have saved the taxpayer thousands of pounds by working together to buy new rescue equipment to deal with road traffic collisions.
A contract of nearly £1.25 million has been awarded to Weber Rescue UK for the supply of new battery powered cutting equipment to South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.
The joint procurement has saved both services time and money- but leaders say it will also make training and maintenance more efficient in the future.
A project team at South Yorkshire led on the process of procuring the equipment whilst team members at West Yorkshire directed the research and development phase of the project.
The specialist cutting gear is to be used primarily at road traffic collisions to safely remove casualties from vehicles. The new equipment will replace old cutting gear within each service and by January 2019, it is expected that all appliances at both services will be modified to include the new battery powered rescue equipment.
Having a standardised provision in cutting gear across both services will ensure that rescue equipment is compatible when crews attend over-the-border incidents. All firefighters at both services will be trained in using the equipment, enabling more efficient and effective working between the two services at incidents within each county.
The new pieces of equipment also bring operational benefits such as an improved cutting force and a longer run time helping to reduce the time to gain access to people who are trapped and injured.
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, said: “This is a great investment in standardising operational equipment and will undoubtedly improve our response to rescue incidents. By collaborating on projects such as this with our neighbouring services presents us with a great opportunity to provide a more effective and efficient service to the people we serve.”
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer John Roberts, said: “We are continually looking at how we can work closely with our partners and neighbouring Fire and Rescue Services. This is a great example of how this approach can work to everyone’s advantage, saving the taxpayer money, reducing the time and effort spent on research and ensuring that when we do respond to emergencies we can work more closely than ever by virtue of carrying identical equipment.”
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd, said “This kind of collaboration is great to see and the results are clear – it saves time for firefighters and saves money for taxpayers.
“We have been clear that joint working between fire and rescue services on procurement makes economic and operational sense. It can drive down prices and improves the service they provide for the public.”
“I commend the fire chiefs in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire for this project, and hope that this kind of closer working will become more widespread across our fire and rescue services.”
The joint procurement project comes following the publication of procurement data information in 2016 by the Home Office. The report found that fire and rescue services were paying similar prices for equipment but purchasing separately, despite financial and operational benefits of buying together.
Fire and rescues services in the UK are now being encouraged to do more collaboratively to drive down the amount spent on essential goods such as frontline equipment and workwear.
The Policing & Crime Act 2017 also received Royal Assent on 31 January last year, placing a new statutory duty on emergency services to look at opportunities to work with one another better to improve efficiency and effectiveness.