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Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority Annual General Meeting 2024

Date: 14th June, 2024

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority held their Annual General Meeting this week (12 June) at Service Headquarters, Salisbury.

At the meeting, Cllr Paul Oatway QPM (Wiltshire Council) was elected as Chair of the Authority and Cllr Clare Weight (BCP Council) was elected as Vice-Chair. Cllr’s Laura Beddow and Duncan Sowry-House were welcomed to the Authority from Dorset Council.

Cllr Oatway said: “It is a real honour to have been elected as Chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority and I am grateful to my fellow elected Members for their support. I am looking forward to working with the Chief Fire Officer, the strategic leadership team, and all staff, to support our communities across BCP, Dorset, Swindon and Wiltshire in our prevention, protection, and emergency response agendas. We know there will continue to be financial challenges for the Authority over the coming years, but we have a fantastic fire and rescue service, and I know I speak for all Members when I say how proud we are of our staff and the great work they all do.”

The Authority received some significant papers during their meeting, including the outcome of the Community Safety Plan public consultation and the annual Service performance review for 2023-24.

The performance review shows how the Service has performed against its priorities and targets set by the Authority through the Community Safety Plan. During 2023-24, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have:

– Completed over 7,700 Safe & Well visits to vulnerable members of our communities. This has helped contribute to a 10% reduction in accidental dwelling fires, against the five-year average.
– Made significant investment in business fire safety following legislation changes made following the Grenfell Tower fire, which has resulted in over 920 fire safety audits being completed and nearly 6,800 positive interactions with local businesses.
– Consistently 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 31 seconds against a target of ten minutes.
– Continued with work to address the Service’s Culture Action Plan, but through longstanding initiatives and community engagement, improved the diversity of our workforce by 5.8% compared to the five-year average.
– Installed solar panels at five fire service sites, with plans to increase this number over the coming years.

Chief Fire Officer, Ben Ansell QFSM said: “It has been a busy and challenging year for the organisation, but staff across the Service have and continue to go above and beyond to help their communities. 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 working with, and for, Cllrs Oatway, Weight and all members of the Fire and Rescue Authority to ensure we do our utmost to build on the great work that our wonderful staff continue to deliver.”

More about the Fire and Rescue Authority can be found here.

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