A TRAINING and consulting company which “undoubtedly made the county safer” from fire could be wound up because “without significant investment” the company will not be financially stable.

Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority set up Shropshire Fire Risk Management Services Ltd in April 2013, aiming to help county businesses safer and provide income during austerity.

A report, written by Chief Fire Office Rod Hammerton and his deputy Andy Johnson for the authority, says more than 300 companies used the service until it went into “hibernation” in 2017, but recommends members close the company and write off £5,000 of remaining debt.

They add that, when established, the authority agreed “SFRMS should have the objective of providing high-quality fire risk management services that would both make Shropshire safer and provide a revenue stream to offset some of the anticipated impact of ‘austerity’ [sic].”

They add: “During its period of active operation SFRMS provided risk assessments and training to over 300 Shropshire companies, undoubtedly making living and working in the county safer.

“SFRMS was also able to offset the costs to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service of one senior commander post, enabling workloads and references to be restructured.”

In October 2015, auditors SFRMS gave “going concern” approval, but said that might not be renewed if the company failed to become profitable by the end of 2018-19. The board “recognised the challenge this posed and decided the company should focus on paying down its debt with the fire authority within three years”, Officers Hammerton and Johnson add.

The company was put into “hibernation” 18 months later, reducing overheads to less than £6,000 annually.

“The board of SFRMS continue to feel that the ‘project’ has been worthwhile but recognise that without significant investment the company will not be able to put itself in a position of financial sustainability in its current model,” the authors add.

The company currently owes £75,000 to the fire authority, its sole shareholder and only creditor.

“The company currently has funds available to reduce the debt to the Authority to £70,000,” Officers Hammerton and Johnson add.

“The Fire Authority is asked to consider and approve the write-off of the debt outstanding from the company.”

Officer Johnson, along with authority members Nigel Hartin, Miles Hosken, Keith Roberts and Chris Melling, are currently listed as directors of SFRMS with Companies House.

Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority will discuss the report when it meets at the brigade’s Shrewsbury headquarters on Wednesday, October 9.