Firefighters in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire are now using the same breathing apparatus following a three year programme.

This alignment between the three Thames Valley fire and rescue services is the result of a £1.7 million programme.

More than 4,000 items of new firefighting equipment have been distributed to firefighters operating from 60 fire stations across the counties.

Since the new breathing apparatus arrived at fire stations, it has been worn multiple times at a range of incidents, including domestic, commercial and vehicle fires and suspected gas and carbon monoxide leaks.

Matt Cook, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy chief fire officer, said: "The new breathing apparatus project has been a culmination of joint working across the three fire and rescue services.

"We now have a single breathing apparatus equipment as part of this collaboration work across the Thames Valley."

The new safety equipment includes personal facemasks made from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear certified material and new nine-litre, 300 bar working pressure air cylinders.

They include a Bluetooth communication system, which enables those wearing breathing apparatus to wirelessly communicate clearly with each other, with a casualty at a scene, and with officers outside the incident.

The project has involved operational and support staff from across the services and includes the procurement, training, health and safety and equipment teams, in addition to the firefighters themselves.