Today’s columnist, James Courtney: Services all working together

South Yorkshires Chief Fire Officer James Courtney.
South Yorkshires Chief Fire Officer James Courtney.
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This month we reached an important agreement with the ambulance service, which will see up to five ambulance stand-by points created at fire stations across South Yorkshire

Our fire stations at Aston Park, Barnsley, Birley Moor, Edlington and Parkway will be modified to allow ambulance staff to share space in one of the first schemes of its kind in the country.

The agreement signed between South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue and Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust sets out the proposed co-location of ambulance service resources at the sites, including office space for ambulance staff, welfare facilities and ambulance parking bays. It also allows for shared use of meeting rooms and gyms.

In my view, this is the best possible proof of our commitment to pursue meaningful collaboration opportunities with our emergency service partners.

Agreements like this make perfect sense for the taxpayer as well as for us and the ambulance service.

We already work closely with our emergency service colleagues at incidents, but by working with them literally under one roof, we hope to be able to share learning and best practice even further, which can only help to improve the quality of the service we offer to local people.

As I have written about in this column previously, we are pursuing similar opportunities to share buildings with South Yorkshire Police.

Planners in Rotherham have approved proposals for a joint police and fire station in Maltby. Maltby fire station will close and the nearby police station will be modified to accommodate fire service vehicles and staff.

The project won Government Transformation Funding of £560,000 last year and will help save both South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue money by sharing building running costs, enabling funding to be targeted at frontline services.

Another area of collaboration between 999 services in South Yorkshire which I have written about previously sees firefighters attending hundreds more incidents each year in a unique arrangement with both the police and ambulance service.

Our crews have attended more than 1,800 ‘medical break-in’ incidents since July 2014, when we were the first fire service in the country to take on this type of work.

Last year the Government announced it wants to encourage collaboration by introducing a new statutory duty on all three emergency services.

We are well on our way to satisfying this aspiration in South Yorkshire.