Date: 28th June, 2017
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority has a new Chairman.
At its meeting on 27 June, Cllr Spencer Flower (Dorset County Council – Verwood) was unanimously elected into the role.
He replaces Cllr Rebecca Knox, who had been Chairman since 1 April 2016, when the new Authority came into being.
Cllr Knox remains on the Authority and, while she did not seek re-election to the chairmanship due to her commitments as Leader of Dorset County Council, she will continue with her national role on the Local Government Association Fire Services Management Committee.
The Authority’s Vice-Chairman remains Cllr Garry Perkins (Swindon Borough Council – Haydon Wick).
On accepting his nomination, Cllr Flower said: “It is a great privilege for any elected Member to be made Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Authority, and I will do my very best to maintain the high standards set down by my predecessor. I am looking forward to working with the Chief Fire Officer, other members of the Strategic Leadership Team and Authority colleagues to continue delivering a safe, strong and sustainable fire and rescue service for the communities of Bournemouth, Dorset, Poole, Swindon and Wiltshire.”
He added: “Rebecca Knox is a hard act to follow, having done an outstanding job as the Authority’s first Chairman, and her leadership in the run-up to combination was also exemplary. I was delighted to see the whole Authority united in recording a formal vote of thanks to her.”
Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell also praised the leadership of Cllr Knox: “Her inspirational leadership in the run up to, and during, the combination of Wiltshire and Dorset was fundamental to the success of the merger. She has become a key figure on the national stage and is well respected by her peers right across the country. I am delighted that she is able to remain on the Fire and Rescue Authority, given her commitments within Dorset County Council. I look forward to working with Cllr Flower in his role as Chairman as we continue to strengthen the new Service.”
At the same meeting, the Authority received a report from CFO Ansell on the Fire and Rescue Service’s performance in its first full year.
Amongst the headlines were:
- A downward trend in the number of fires and, especially, deliberate fires.
- Continued investment in the recruitment and retention of on-call firefighters, with an on-going project to strengthen response arrangements and improve work-life balance.
- Over 12,400 Safe & Well visits delivered across the Service area, providing free home safety advice and liaising with partners where appropriate.
- In-school fire safety lessons for more than 22,000 children and young people.
- Road safety presentations made to nearly 17,000 people via Safe Drive Stay Alive.
- Over 700 fire safety audits made of non-domestic premises.
CFO Ansell said: “We measure performance against our corporate priorities – making safer and healthier choices; protecting you and the environment from harm; being there when you need us; and making every penny count. Across the board, the new organisation has done really well and I truly believe that we have created a safer, stronger and more sustainable Fire and Rescue Service that is equipped to support our communities in every way we can.”
He added: “We certainly won’t be sitting on our laurels, there is still much to do and we have a number of significant pieces of work underway to develop our role in supporting colleagues in the health sector, alongside other projects that are focused on the continued alignment of our procedures. We are also introducing a fifth priority, ‘supporting and developing our people’, and our aspirations across the whole Service will be set out in our new Community Safety Plan, which is due to be published soon.”