James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Some Firefighters In Devon Will Tackle Blazes And Crime
10 April 2019, 09:21
Seven officers from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue have been trained by police as Special Constables enabling them to carry out arrests.
Known as “community responders” the hybrid officers have been given two months training and will now attend both police and fire incidents.
The scheme has been criticised by emergency services unions as it could blur the lines between services.
The initiative aims to improve the response time of emergency services in rural areas.
Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez said: "We don’t know what future funding will look like for any of our emergency services."
She said that working together on unique projects like this will improve the service both organisations can deliver.
The Fire Brigades Union is not in favour of the scheme. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Dave Green said: "Independence from the police is vital to ensure that communities know firefighters exist to save lives, not to enforce the law.”
Mr Green said: "We remain opposed to any attempt to turn firefighters into law enforcement, either in Devon and Somerset, or elsewhere in the country."
Kevin Pearce, one of the first community responders said the response he received had been positive.
Mr Pearce said: "I think this pilot will be really beneficial - it will mean I can be more of a presence in the community and a face that people will recognise and can approach about both police and fire-related incidents and we can help reach more people."