Swindon councillor joins fire and rescue authority

By Barrie Hudson - 22 June 2022


Swindon Borough Councillor Brian Ford has been welcomed to Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority.

He joined the organisation, which oversees fire and rescue services across the two counties, during its Annual General Meeting in Salisbury.

Cllr Ford became a member following the departure of fellow borough councillor and fellow former Mayor of Swindon Garry Perkins, who stood down at the recent local elections.

The AGM also saw Cllr Rebecca Knox re-elected as chair of the authority and Cllr Paul Oatway was re-elected as vice-chair. Cllr Byron Quayle was re-elected as chair of the Finance and Audit Committee and Cllr Pip Ridout was re-elected as vice-chair of the committee.

Cllr Knox said: “It is an honour to have been re-elected as chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority and I am grateful to my fellow elected Members for their support. I look forward to continuing to work with the Chief Fire Officer and Strategic Leadership Team to deliver results across our prevention, protection and emergency response functions over the coming year despite the financial challenges we face. 

"We have responsibility for an excellent fire and rescue service, and I know I speak for the full Authority when I say how proud we are of our workforce.”

The authority received the annual Service performance review for 2021-22. After another year dominated by the pandemic, the report shows how the Service has performed against its priorities and targets set by the authority through the Community Safety Plan, as well as how staff have continued to adapt ways of working, whilst supporting partners to keep communities safe. 

In 2021-22, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have:

- Completed over 7,700 Safe & Well visits to vulnerable people. This has helped contribute to a 4.4% reduction in accidental dwelling fires, against the five year average.

- Reduced the number of unwanted fire alarms by almost 9% against the five year average. This work has ensured non-cashable and cost avoidance savings of over £175,000 to the public purse.  

- Achieved the corporate target for emergency response times. The average response time, including call handling, to a fire in a sleeping risk premises was nine minutes and 24 seconds against a target of ten minutes.

Other highlights of the performance review are the ongoing work with partners in the four constituent authorities to support Ukrainian refugees, a national award for the road safety team, a focus on staff wellbeing and development and the challenges the service faces financially and with on-call firefighter recruitment.

Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “2021-22 was another challenging year. Staff from across the service have and continue to go above and beyond to help their communities, ensuring that we can still deliver our prevention, protection and emergency response functions. 

"We have achieved this whilst also continuing our support for partners, and in particular, the NHS. 

“We continue to operate in a challenging financial climate, and we are now faced with some serious and difficult decisions in order to maintain a balanced budget. The fantastic staff we have are vital to ensuring we keep our communities safe, whether at home, at work or on our roads. 

"I look forward to continue working with Cllr Knox and the Fire and Rescue Authority over the coming year to ensure we do our best to build on and continue this excellent work.”

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