A union chief says moves to ‘join-up’ fire and police provision could weaken both services and lead to longer response times.
Gary Mitchell, of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), has reacted to proposals to launch an “integrated initial response vehicle” which could see police officers and firefighters travelling to 999 incidents in the same vehicle.
The scheme is set to trial in the county later in the year.
But Mr Mitchell described the move as the first steps towards a merger between the two services. He said: “We have no problems if coppers want to come and share our facilities to make a cup of tea maybe.
“But when we are talking about operational responses, we were trained as firefighters not policemen. Police carry stab vests and pepper sprays we don’t want to be involved in that sort of thing.”
Mr Mitchell, who was invited to speak in front of a steering group for the proposals last Friday, said FBU members were concerned at the prospect of having to attend domestic incidents.
He also said that the joining-up of services could take power away from Northamptonshire County Council and give police bosses a greater say in how the fire service was run. But Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue’s area manager, Shaun Hallam, said it was working with the police to finalise how the initial responder vehicle would work.
“The benefits of working together allow for joint problem solving,” he said. “We will work with the unions to find out how we will work out the best incidents to respond to together.”