FIREFIGHTERS and police officers could have the same boss under a proposed overhaul of the relationship between emergency services.

Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will be given the chance to assume control of overseeing fire services in their area under plans announced by the Government.

The elected officials will then be able to put in place a single 'employer' led by a senior officer in charge of hiring all local fire and police personnel.

Gwent PCC Ian Johnston said he had a good working relationship with the fire service, but that he would have 'difficulty' adopting the proposals as fire and rescue was a devolved service.

Unions attacked the proposals, while ministers say better collaboration will strengthen emergency services and deliver savings and benefits for the public.

New legislation will allow PCCs to take on the responsibility of the fire and rescue authority in their area "where a local case is made that it would be in the interests of economy, efficiency and effectiveness, or public safety".

A Government consultation setting out the proposals stressed that the distinction between operational policing and firefighting will be maintained.

The reforms will also place fire, police and ambulance services under a statutory duty to consider opportunities for collaboration.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), said there is 'absolutely no case' for PCCs to take over fire and rescue services.

He said: "These are badly thought out proposals from a Government which couldn't care less about emergency services or those they employ.

"Police are law enforcers, while fire and rescue is a humanitarian service with a very different remit and culture."

Other changes in the proposals include enabling a PCC to be represented on their local fire and rescue authority in cases where they do not assume responsibility of the organisations; giving the Mayor of London direct responsibility for the fire and rescue service in the capital; and encouraging local ambulance NHS foundation trusts to consider having PCCs represented on their council of governors.

Commenting on the Government proposals, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: “Gwent Police and my office already have a good working relationship with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and we collaborate effectively on a number of different projects and various streams of work locally. However, we would have some difficulty adopting these Government proposals in Wales simply because fire and rescue is a devolved service.”