Following the Government’s decision not to extend emergency legislation which allowed Fire Authorities to hold virtual meetings on-line, meetings post 7th May will now take place live. Venues for those meetings are currently being booked to ensure sufficient room for Elected Members and essential staff, such as the Fire Authority’s Clerk, democratic services assistant, minute-taker and the lead Director and presenters of reports. In order to ensure that current COVID-19 guidance is adhered to, Risk Assessments have been undertaken for live meetings to identify the measures required to ensure that meetings take place safely. In this respect, the Government has announced that for public access it encourages local authorities:
‘to continue to provide remote access until at least 21 June, at which point it is anticipated that restrictions on indoor gatherings will have been lifted in line with the Roadmap. However, it is for individual local authorities to satisfy themselves that they have met the requirements for public access’.
Therefore, 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 web site, as soon as possible after the meeting has taken place. We would ask that members of the public follow the guidance given in our updated public participation guidelines for virtual meetings and if they wish to present a Public Access Statement (PAS) prior to 21st June, they should either submit a written PAS for the Chair to read on their behalf or submit a recording of themselves reading their PAS which will be played during the meeting. Notice of a PAS must be given to the Clerk at least two clear days’ before the meeting and any recordings should be submitted at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. Please be assured that once all restrictions on indoor gatherings have been lifted full public access will be granted to Fire Authority meetings.
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.