Councillor Rebecca Knox has been elected as the first chairman of the new Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority at the first meeting of the new combined organisation which came into being on Friday 1 April.
Cllr Knox, who represents Beaminster on Dorset County Council, was formerly the chairman of Dorset Fire Authority.
Her vice-chairman is Cllr Garry Perkins, formerly vice-chairman of Wiltshire & Swindon Combined Fire Authority, who represents the Haydon Wick ward on Swindon Borough Council – pictured above at a meeting about the future of Lydiard Park in March 2016.
Today’s meeting saw the legal beginning of the new Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, which has 50 fire stations, 73 fire engines, over 1,000 full-time and on-call firefighters, and a population of over 1.45 million residents in the local authority areas of Bournemouth, Dorset, Poole, Swindon and Wiltshire.
Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter and his Senior Leadership Team are based at the new Service Headquarters in Salisbury, which form part of the Five Rivers Health & Wellbeing Centre owned by Wiltshire Council.
The former headquarters buildings in Potterne (Wiltshire) and Poundbury (Dorset) are now being used as Area offices, with a full review of the Service’s estate being undertaken.
A joint Service Control Centre at Potterne was opened in August 2015 and has been dealing with 999 calls for both counties since that time.
Cllr Knox said: “I would like to give my thanks to my fellow Authority members for electing me as the first chairman of the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority. It is a great honour, and something I do not take lightly.
“Today we are marking the beginning of a new organisation, serving two of the most beautiful counties in England. We have an outstanding headquarters within the Five Rivers Health & Wellbeing Centre in Salisbury, which is a very public statement of our partnership working, placing us shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues at Wiltshire Council, and I thank them for all the help they have given us.
“Today is very much a celebration of something new, but we must also acknowledge the fantastic work that has been done up until now in Dorset and Wiltshire by the two former fire authorities and fire & rescue services. We are taking those successes and using them as our foundation as we look to the future.
“Darran, his team and – although he’s not here today – former Wiltshire chief Simon Routh-Jones, have played a huge part and worked incredibly hard to get us to today. I hope everyone involved in the process is looking around now and feeling a real sense of pride in what has been achieved.”
Contact details for the new Service are as follows:
· Postal address: Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Five Rivers Health & Wellbeing Centre, Hulse Road, Salisbury, SP1 3NR
· Email: email@example.com
· Telephone: 01722 691000