FEARS raised by firefighters about the broader scope of their role will be addressed, according to the county's police, fire and crime commissioner.

Roger Hirst's draft plan for Essex Fire and Rescue Service for the next five years has now been approved by Essex County Council's fire and crime panel.

After consulting with firefighters, partners and the public, the document sets out eight priorities for the service including enhancing prevention, protection and response, broadening the roles of the service, helping the vulnerable to stay safe and improving road safety.

But during the consultation, representatives from the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) voiced concerns about taking on extra duties - including working to prevent crashes.

Mr Hirst said: "They have told me they have concerns and there are certain sections of the plan they could not agree with.

"Those are particularly to do with the broadening of the role.

"We are absolutely going to be guided by the national debate on the issue towards the changing role of the firefighter.

"But broadening the role of the service does not necessarily have to involve the FBU firefighter.

"We could bring in people with different roles and job descriptions but of course we would like to work with them constructively.

"They did not think improving road safety was part of their statutory duty - of course, it is part of their duty to attend road traffic collisions.

"But I think what the public want is not to be involved in a crash or trapped in the first place."

Mr Hirst added FBU members were fully supportive of other parts of his plan - including the desire to create a positive culture and increase diversity.

He said further talks were now planned to discuss the issues which had been raised.

After councillors agreed the draft plan it will now be officially launched later this month.

Other priorities outline are collaborating with partners, being transparent, open and accessible and making the best use of resources.