DORSET Fire & Rescue Service has launched a public consultation to consider its future options – one of which involves merging with Wiltshire and Swindon Fire Authority.

County fire chief Darran Gunter, who says DFRS faces a “challenging financial future” insists the protection of frontline services is a priority.

Local residents are being urged to have their say on options while a parallel consultation is held in Wiltshire during the same period.

Mr Gunter said: “DFRS delivers essential life-changing and life-saving services.

“Whilst we face a challenging financial future, we are keen to encourage people to contribute to our consultation exercise.”

Residents are able to complete an online questionnaire and access information through the DFRS website.

In addition, a random selection of 12,000 households across Dorset and Wiltshire will receive the questionnaire directly.

Other options outlined in the consultation document include closer working with local authorities and the police.

Mr Gunter said: “We want to explore every possibility to transform our service but also help protect our essential frontline activities.

“We have a number of potential options, key to which is whether we become a larger fire and rescue service and how much we work with our local councils.”

Meanwhile, Dorset Fire Authority chairman Cllr Rebecca Knox, said: “We have a wonderful fire and rescue service in Dorset , Bournemouth and Poole.

“Dorset Fire Authority really wants to protect the excellent professionalism and high standards which our staff set and deliver for all residents in your communities.

“We would like your views on how the authority should continue to strengthen prevention and safety, emergency protection, but at the same time – like many other authorities – do this with less financial budget.”

The consultation deadline in October 20.