Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service came into being on 1 April 2016, following a formal combination between the former Fire Authorities of Dorset and Wiltshire & Swindon.
Both county FRSs were originally formed in 1948, with the introduction of the Fire Service Act of 1947 that saw control of fire brigades being handed to local authorities, usually county councils.
In 1997, local government reorganisation created the new unitary authorities of Swindon Borough Council, Bournemouth Borough Council and the Borough of Poole. As a result, new Combined Fire Authorities were formed – Wiltshire & Swindon, and Dorset.
It was these Authorities which agreed in November 2014 to formally combine with one another, forming a new Fire and Rescue Service to serve the two geographic counties of Dorset and Wiltshire.
The combined Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service now serves the local authority areas of Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Dorset, Swindon, and Wiltshire.
We embarked on the road to combination in December 2013, when the former Fire Authorities of Dorset and Wiltshire & Swindon agreed to develop a business case for a new Service.
Following an extensive public consultation, and a thorough examination of all the benefits and potential risks, both Authorities agreed in November 2014 that combination should be pursued.
The Combination Order was therefore submitted to the Government and formal approval was received in the Spring of 2015. From 1 April 2015 until combination day, the new Fire and Rescue Authority met in Shadow form, overseeing the preparations for the new Service and setting out a clear direction of travel for teams and departments.
Why did we combine?
As two small Fire and Rescue Services, we were vulnerable to outside pressures, and it was extremely difficult to make savings without impacting on frontline delivery. As one larger organisation, we have a stronger voice at a political level, and we will be an even more effective partner for our local authorities and other emergency services.
Every Fire and Rescue Service in the UK has its own unique badge, which is based upon the eight pointed star that represents the cross of St John. The eight points or ‘tenets’ are said to represent the knightly virtues of:
The badge is based on the Wiltshire Wyvern and the Dorset Salamander, which featured in the old Authority designs. Both face outwards, both determined and looking to the future, and both carrying the torch for the new organisation.