A new pilot project that will upskill existing Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to take on fire-fighting duties as part of their daily role is being launched this week (29 June).
The joint project, which is being run in partnership with Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS), will see two of our existing PCSOs carrying a fire pager and responding to emergency fire call-outs where possible.
Extra training will also be given so that the officers will be enabled to conduct fire ‘safe and well’ checks in their community policing role, as well as jointly delivering fire and policing advice at engagement events.
The pilot, which will run for six months, is a result of Wiltshire Police and DWFRS leading the way in implementing Home Office directives on collaborative working with partner agencies. It also aims to improve the Force’s ability to meet the needs of communities but it also aims to deliver efficiencies and savings for both partners.
Angus Macpherson, Wiltshire and Swindon’s PCC, said: “This pilot is an example of two public services trying to improve its service to communities while there is increasing demand and continuous squeezes on funding.
“The community is at the heart of everything Wiltshire Police does. This has given us the chance to work together with the fire service to identify where, and how, we can best align our resources and processes to give a better service to the public.
“I am fully supportive of a project that provides the most vulnerable members of our community with a more joined up approach to keeping them safe.”
Assistant Chief Constable Gavin Williams, who is responsible for local policing, agreed and said it was anticipate that the new roles could reduce duplication, remove ‘red tape’ and allow for a much more joined up service.
He added: “If this pilot is successful not only will we will be improving the service our officers offer in the community but we will also provide extra resource in a fire emergency.
“Our officers’ core role remains as a PCSO but they will receive additional training allowing them to increase community safety, performing safe and well checks in vulnerable people’s homes as well as referring commercial fire safety issues.
“We are lucky that our two new pilot project PCSOs are already retained firefighters so we believe that this trial period will enable us to gain a tangible insight into whether this should be rolled out force wide.”
Ben Ansell, Chief Fire Officer of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Rescue Service, said: “I am really pleased to support these officers, who are both already fully trained on-call firefighters.
"This is the next exciting step in collaboration between the fire service and police and not only will it provide us with greater understanding of each organisation, we also have the opportunity to provide an even better service to our local communities.
"We continue to face challenges with recruiting on-call firefighters and this innovative approach to service delivery is an excellent example of implementing collaborative working initiatives that are both in line with government thinking and provide real benefit to local communities.”