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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fire service seeks public views on its future

If you had to choose, would you keep your nearest fire station open but accept that there may be times when it is not available; or would you opt for a fire station further away but which is always available?
This is one of the tough questions members of the public are likely to be posed as North Wales Fire & Rescue Service works out the priorities for how it will be run over the next few years.
The service continually reviews and improves the service it provides and as part of this process is launching a public consultation on its long-term strategy this week - asking those who rely on its services to voice their opinions on the key issues identified.
The two main priorities up for discussion have been highlighted by the fire authority for the financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14:
+ To help to keep people and communities safe by preventing deaths and injuries from accidental fires in living accommodation. This will include adopting a new all-Wales Dwelling Fire Response Charter that makes seven fundamental commitments to Welsh residents.
+ To find ways of reducing the overall cost of running the Service each year in order to operate within the annual budget.
In the second year of a three-year budget freeze, the authority will be looking for innovative ways of reducing costs without affecting services.
As for 2014-15, the authority is asking people to join in taking a longer term view and send in their ideas about what it should be considering when it drafts its future improvement objectives and financial strategy.
Chief Fire Officer Simon Smith said: "Today's fire and rescue service delivers a far more sophisticated range of services than just responding to emergencies. At the same time, there is a particular emphasis on public services working together effectively to build strong communities - so more people than just those who have had fires will be interested in what the fire and rescue service does.
"The recent months have not been easy for many in the face of current economic pressures. Our main priority is to achieve the required savings without compromising the levels of service we have provided in the past. Is it not an easy task and we continue to investigate ways of achieving our targets.
"The questions we are asking as part of this consultation are therefore to do with the strategic direction of the service as a whole and how to ensure we provide the best service possible with the money we have available to us.
"The more people get involved, the better our prospects of achieving the right balance of services we provide. The more opinions we receive, the more we can be confident that the detailed action plans we develop, will deliver exactly what the people of North Wales want."
The public can find out more about getting involved by logging on to the website -completed questionnaires must be forwarded by the deadline on January 7, 2013.

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