This week's in my view comes from... Councillor Colin Dudley, chairman of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service

Residents of Bracknell and of course the whole of Royal Berkshire will be reassured that a recent Government inspection has found that your fire and rescue service is performing to a high standard, as well as, in my view, providing you with remarkable value for money.

The inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) focused on how effectively and efficiently your fire and rescue service is at keeping people safe and secure from fire and other risks, as well as how well it looks after its people. I am delighted to say that RBFRS received three ‘good’ judgments across the three areas (effectiveness, efficiency and people) inspected.

But what does this mean for you? It means that RBFRS is good at both responding to existing risks and preparing for future ones. RBFRS has recently increased its number of wholetime fire engines from 13 to 14, the latest addition is at Ascot Fire Station. We work hard to ensure that we have the right resources in the right place at the right time.

Our target is to get to all calls for help within 10 minutes the first ring at our emergency centre, 75% of the time, whatever you need us for, across the whole of Berkshire. That’s 10 minutes or less from dialling 999 to a fire engine arriving.

The Government inspectors were particularly impressed with the Service’s effective working practices with neighbouring fire and rescue services. A shared fire control room, Thames Valley Fire Control Service, was set up in 2015, and there has been alignment in other areas, such as purchasing new equipment, fire engines, specialist vehicles and uniforms, as well as taking part in regular training to improve the way all of our blue light services work together to protect you, the residents of Bracknell and Royal Berkshire.

The inspection noted RBFRS’ efficient allocation of money and resources. When I talk to Berkshire residents, you are often pleasantly surprised by how little you pay for your fire and rescue service, with the average householder in Berkshire paying just £66.28 per year for your fire and rescue service. That’s less than £1.28 per week per house!

In comparison to the 30 other fire and rescue services inspected to date, RBFRS sits in the top 5 for performance and lowest 5 for council tax, which is a remarkable and a combination I am very proud of.

The Service was rated good at looking after the welfare of its staff and inspectors were impressed by the counselling, trauma support and a healthcare scheme provided. Inspectors noted a positive culture and found the Service was committed to further improvements.

As a Fire Authority, we are determined to continue to provide a safe and efficient service, whilst balancing our budget in an increasingly volatile period for public finances. While I am very pleased with the Service’s progress, the Authority and our Officers will not become complacent. We are committed to investing in and supporting the Service to continue this journey of improvement for the people of Bracknell and Royal Berkshire.