Your fire and rescue service responds to over 8,500 incidents each year, which include, of course, fighting fires, attending road traffic accidents, providing fire prevention and education and attending major incidents. While not a statutory duty, the fire and rescue service will also respond to flooding incidents, which have been increasing as you will have seen in the news recently. When needed, fire engines have to be able to get to incidents quickly and the aim is to get to 80% of all fires involving a potential human life risk within 10 minutes.This is very challenging when 33 out of 40 fire engines are crewed by 'on-call' firefighters, who can live or work up to 4 minutes from their fire station.
We continue to be one of the lowest funded Fire Authorities in England and our budget to provide the fire and rescue service for Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole is £30m. We are currently facing a funding reduction of over 16% between 2012/14 and a further 14% reduction is expected in the two years after that. Over the last few years, we have found savings which are forecast to exceed £4m each year by 2015/16, saving a total of over £29m (or the equivalent of the budget for an entire year) up to and including 2016/17. Senior Management and support departments have been significantly reduced or outsourced and we have recently agreed to the next stage of an efficiency programme, which will examine opportunities for income generation, further collaboration with neighbouring fire and rescue services and the benefits of shared support services.
Members of the Fire Authority fully understand that there is a need to help keep household bills as low as possible. We also have both a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that we fulfil our statutory obligations so that communities in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole have an effective fire and rescue service. To help us reach our conclusion on the amount you have to pay each year for your fire and rescue service, we commissioned an independent survey of the views of local residents. This showed strong support for us to increase the amount you pay by up to £5 a year. After very careful consideration, we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the best way to keep you as safe as we can, is to make a small increase of £4.95 per year (or just 9.5 pence per week) for an average Band D household.
Despite this small increase, our budget deficit may still be around £2m by 2016. Over the coming months, elected Members will be looking at the options that are available to them to make additional future savings which protect frontline services. Despite our financial difficulties, we remain fully committed to providing you with an exemplary service, helping to make Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole a safer place to work and live.