Cleveland Fire Brigade has set up a community interest company that provides services to the private sector in order to subsidise its work for the public.
The company, Cleveland Fire Brigade Risk Management Services CIC, won its first contract last week. It will provide 24-hour emergency cover to a plastics manufacturer, INEOS Nitriles.
The profits from the deal, which is worth several million pounds over three years, will be used to subsidise services such as fire prevention projects that are facing public funding cuts.
Chief fire officer Ian Hayton said: "The money we make from this work will go directly back into protecting our community, and we expect this contract to be the first of many. This is ground-breaking territory, not only in terms of the good it will deliver for our community, but also in holding the door wide open for fire and rescue services across the country to follow in our footsteps, using commercial income to protect our service nationwide."
The brigade is also considering turning the entire organisation into an employee-owned mutual.Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: "This new multi-million pound contract is a huge vote of confidence for Cleveland Fire Brigade’s social enterprise arm. It proves how successful entrepreneurial public servants can be and bolsters Cleveland’s ambition to spin its brigade out of the public sector and run it as a staff-led mutual business. And it is great news for local people as the profits from this new contract will be invested straight back into protecting the community."