A landmark deal has been signed by Durham Constabulary and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.
The “Statement of Intent” sets out the two organisations’ intentions to work more closely together and to enhance co-operation and collaboration.
They hope this will further improve the already excellent service they provide to the public, as well as saving them money.
Police and Fire already work well together operationally, and share estates and facilities such as a joint station at Newton Aycliffe and training centre at Bowburn.
But this deal marks a step change in how they will work together.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg (pictured above Chair of the County Durham and Darlington Combined Fire Authority, Councillor Michele Hodgson) said: “The people of County Durham and Darlington already benefit from having outstanding Police and Fire and Rescue Services.
“I believe there is great potential for closer collaboration to improve services even further and to help us manage through the tough financial times that are ahead.
“I am committed to making swift progress with the Fire and Rescue Authority so that we can achieve improvements and savings quickly, for all our benefit.”
Cllr Hodgson added: “We already have a very constructive relationship between the fire and rescue service and police in this area.
“Providing an efficient and effective emergency response for the communities of County Durham and Darlington is our number one priority; any proposals that aim to help us do this must be carefully considered.”
Stuart Errington, Chief Fire Officer for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We welcome this opportunity to explore all of the options for collaboration.
“There is a strong base to build on as we already have strong relationships and work very closely with the police operationally, in training, on special projects and by sharing facilities and expertise.
“We will consider any proposals which will safeguard frontline services and, when and where appropriate, support further collaboration.”
Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, Mike Barton, added: “Stuart Errington and I have worked closely together for several years. This puts our working together on a more formal footing and will allow us to improve the service we provide to the public.”
Areas on which the services will look to collaborate include estates and assets, control room, safety initiatives, training, back office functions, and community engagement.