On Thursday 27 January 2022, the Government implemented Plan A and lifted COVID-19 restrictions. Updated guidance was issued on 28 January 2022:
- Social distancing rules no longer apply in law, however local authorities still have a legal duty to manage risks and take reasonable steps to mitigate risks identified (such as the risk of COVID-19 transmission).
- There is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering, however, the government suggests that people continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where they may come into contact with other people they do not normally meet.
- Local authorities should retain cleaning protocols to limit coronavirus transmission in public places.
In the light of this new Government guidance, the Fire Authority Chair and Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive have agreed that the measures currently in place to protect staff and public at the Police & Fire HQ and at Fire Stations will continue. Those measures include wearing masks and social distancing, including capacity limits on meeting rooms.
Venues for meetings of the Fire Authority and Committees are held at various locations across the Avon area and many are still affected by capacity limits, therefore we encourage members of the public not to attend meetings for the foreseeable future until the prevalence of COVID-19 has reduced.
To continue to allow public access to meetings, all Fire Authority meetings will be filmed, and footage of those meetings will be uploaded to our YouTube site, as soon as possible after the meeting has taken place. Members of the public are still entitled to present a Public Access Statement (PAS), provided notice has been given to the Clerk at least two clear days before the meeting. That Public Access Statement will be read to the meeting by the Chair or Clerk.
If members of the public wish to attend a Fire Authority meeting in person, they are asked to contact the Clerk in advance who can check that there is sufficient space in the meeting room, to ensure that social distancing can be observed. Members of the public will only be permitted to attend the part of the meeting where they present their Public Access Statement and will then be expected to leave the room to minimise numbers attending meetings. Any members of the public choosing to attend meetings do so entirely at their own personal risk.
What is Avon Fire Authority?
Avon Fire Authority is responsible for making provision for promoting fire safety, undertaking fire-fighting, rescues from road traffic accidents and responding to other emergencies in the area covered by the 4 Councils in the former Avon area. The Fire Authority consists of 20 councillors appointed by the Councils in proportion to the number of people entitled to vote in their respective areas:
Bath & North East Somerset: 3 Members
Bristol: 8 Members
North Somerset: 4 Members
South Gloucestershire: 5 Members
The Fire Authority was established in 1996 after Avon County Council was abolished. This had previously provided the fire and rescue service in our area. The Fire Authority is sometimes referred to as the 'Combined Fire Authority' which reflects its legal status.
The Fire Authority owns the land, buildings, vehicles and equipment; and employs the staff to deliver a fire and rescue service.
What do AFA Members do?
The Fire Authority has the legal responsibility for delivery of a fire and rescue service but employs a Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive to manage the organisation on a day-to-day basis. Members focus on:
- Setting the council tax / budget.
- Determining the Fire Authority's priorities and objectives for the purposes of the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) and approving the IRMP.
- Approving the Statement of Assurance and Annual Governance Statement.
- Approving the Annual Statement of Accounts.
- Appointing, suspending or dismissing the Chief Fire Officer (CFO), the Deputy CFO and the Statutory Officers.
- Holding the CFO to account for the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of service delivery and continuous improvement in implementing the Fire Authority’s vision, mission, values, objectives, priorities, plans and strategies.
- Holding the Statutory Officers to account for the discharge of their statutory functions.
- Approving a pay policy statement.
- Approving arrangements:
- to enter into a reinforcement scheme
- with other employers of firefighters
- for discharge of functions by others.
- Approving business continuity plans to enable the Fire Authority to perform its fire and rescue functions if an emergency occurs.
- Approving any arrangements for the co-operation with Category 1 and 2 responders under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
- Appointing a local auditor and deciding whether to enter into a liability limitation agreement.