Within the budget recommendation of the Fire Service was the requirement to increase council tax by 4p a week for Band D properties in Bournemouth, Dorset, Poole, Swindon and Wiltshire – an annual fire precept of £72.70 for the Fire and Rescue Service within the council tax for the year starting on 1 April 2018.
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service’s commitment to keeping communities safe, with what is one of the lowest operating budgets in the country, includes increasing its level of prevention and protection activity, which has led to the fire & rescue service nationally driving down the number of fires over the past ten years by 50%.
Chief fire officer Ben Ansell, said, “Members have approved a fire precept Band D that is still well below the national average, and we also this year received another large funding reduction, as the Government has granted us 5.8% less than last year. Despite that, we are investing even more in our on-call firefighters, who are so essential to maintaining fire cover in our predominantly rural areas.
“Alongside this, we are completely committed to our prevention and protection activities; targeting those most at risk at home, at work or on the roads, and we will continue working with all our partners, with a focus this year on the new Safety Centre, more Salamander courses, and the Safe Drive Stay Alive programme for schools and the military. Together with local authorities and health partners, we will deliver a range of schemes that will positively benefit all of our communities.”
The Authority also approved proposals to establish revised governance arrangements, which will save up to £38k per year in members’ allowances and provide a more streamlined approach to strategic decision-making.
Cllr Spencer Flower, chairman of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said, “We have a fantastic Fire and Rescue Service, and the Authority decisions today will ensure that the increased activity in prevention and protection such as Safe & Well checks, community safety education and partnerships can be strengthened. We deliver so much to our local communities, from a 24/7 emergency response to an ever-increasing range of personal and business safety activities, and we are as committed as ever to ensuring this continues.”
The Authority also received a paper and presentation on the gender pay gap within Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. Current analysis indicates a mean gender pay gap of 7% and a median gender pay gap of 11.9%, which is lower than the national average of 18% (Office of National Statistics, 2017). Although this could be explained by the disproportionate number of male staff to female in operational roles, and the number of males in senior and middle management positions, the Service has put in place several key initiatives to help bridge the gap. These include: recruitment processes to help rebalance workforce composition; reviewing and improving workplace facilities for women to help provide a welcoming and supporting environment and apprenticeships.
Ben Ansell added, “We are committed to ensuring we have a diverse workforce that reflects the communities we serve.”
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