The nine fire and rescue authorities covering England have signed up to use a Ministry of Defence framework agreement with BT to buy networking services, in the sector's first move to centralise IT procurement.
The agreement means individual authorities will be able to buy any of the services already included in the MoD's £250m-a-year Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service contract.
These include managed fixed-line telephony, managed mobile services, flexible working support and videoconferencing.
The authorities will benefit from the MoD's buying power, in what is one of the first examples of unrelated parts of the public sector cooperating on shared services.
The deal is the first IT contract agreed by Firebuy, the body set up to centralise the nine authorities' procurement.
Firebuy spokesman Colin Francis said, "Until now, procurement within fire and rescue services has been fragmented and authorities have not had the opportunity to combine their purchasing requirements.
"A more strategic approach to procurement will support better long-term financial planning for the sector and will ultimately save money for reinvestment in front-line services."
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