Home Office gives green light to combined fire authority

Plans for a new Combined Fire Authority (CFA) for the Isle of Wight and Hampshire have moved a step closer.

The Home Secretary has given the green light to the CFA submission with a go-live date of April 2021 for the initiative that will bring the Island and Hampshire closer together.
This positive step highlights the Government’s endorsement of the strategic decision made by the two authorities back in January 2019.

The application will now be laid before Parliament.

Last week the planned go-live date was put back by a year due to unrelated national issues. Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin said: “It is great to have reached this important milestone and have a new time frame agreed by the Home Secretary.

“We remain totally committed to delivering this vital initiative for the benefit of the Isle of Wight and Hampshire.

“The additional 12 months will provide an opportunity for us to more closely align our services in advance of the CFA going live than was otherwise going to be possible.”

The new CFA will aim to deliver simpler governance arrangements with a clearer route to decision-making and benefits through a pooling of resources.

It also offers improvements in operational effectiveness and public safety with the bringing together of skills and knowledge.

The new CFA would make it easier for the services to contribute and react in the event of national scale incidents.

It would also build on the close working relationship between Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (IWFRS) set out in April 2015 with the Delivering Differently in Partnership agreement.

Under this partnership the two services share a chief fire officer and other members of the senior team. They also share health and safety teams, policy support, vehicle maintenance and training and development.

HFRS control room also already deals with 999 calls for the Island as well as across the county.

The new CFA, if agreed by Government, will not affect frontline 999 response and is not expected to have any impact on staff numbers.

Councillor Tig Outlaw, the Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: “I am delighted to have received confirmation from the Home Secretary Sajid Javid on the day that he left to become Chancellor of the Exchequer of the acceptance of the proposal for the combined fire authority.

“The Isle of Wight Council is grateful that the Home Office recognised its importance and processed this so quickly. This is an important further step in ensuring the long-term resilience of the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service.”