The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Authority (the Authority) is the independent body which ensures that the local fire and rescue service performs efficiently and in the best interests of the public and community it serves. This means that the fire and rescue service is answerable for its actions and performance to the general public. One of the Authority's main functions is to collect funding from each local council via a precept. This is the portion of Council Tax allocated to this fire and rescue service.The Authority is made up of 26 elected councillors, all of whom are appointed by our four constituent authorities. The Authority has core functions which are set down in the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, these are:
- Fire safety advice
- Making provision for extinguishing fires and protecting life in its area
- Making provision for attending Road Traffic Collisions
- Making provision to address other emergencies.
- Audits and enforces fire risk assessments by 'responsible' persons
- Works with other agencies
- Develops business continuity plans
- Produces and publishes emergency plans
- Agrees on public awareness and information provision.
The elected councillors each represent one of the local authorities that make up Devon & Somerset:
Devon County Council (12)
Somerset County Council (8)
Plymouth City Council (4)
Torbay Council (2)
In appointing their Authority members, the constituent authorities will also set their period of office; this normally coincides with their period of office as a councillor but is reviewed at the constituent authority annual meetings. Once appointed to the Authority, members represent the community as whole, not just the area they serve as a local councillor. They serve as a valuable link between communities and the fire and rescue service. Members are collectively responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of the organisation, including the setting of its budget, promoting its core values and ensuring that the fire and rescue service is effective and efficient.
The full Authority usually meets seven times a year and also has five committees and one working party to assist it in discharging its various functions. Meetings usually last about two hours. Apart from attending the Authority meetings, members usually sit on one of the committees and they can also be asked to represent the Authority at a local and regional level.