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Greater Manchester's award-winning fire and rescue service will cost tax payers £1 per week

GMFRS has marginally increased its cost to the tax payers this year for fire and rescue services
The fire and rescue service in Manchester will cost tax payers £1 per week this year

A pound a week - that's how much on average Greater Manchester's award-winning Fire and Rescue Service will cost local taxpayers this year, following the release of this year's Fire Authority budget proposals.

A report to the Authority's Joint Policy and Finance Committee recommends that the increase in the level of Council Tax Precept this year is limited to just 2.5%, its lowest ever.

This small increase is set against a backdrop of significant financial pressure to find efficiencies for not only the Fire and Rescue Service locally and nationally, but for all public services. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has more than met this challenge having been acclaimed the most efficient Fire Service in England, and having reduced deaths and injuries from fire in 2009 to Greater Manchester's lowest ever recorded figure. And whilst improving its service to the Greater Manchester public, GMFRS has not shied from helping other communities both nationally and internationally. Greater Manchester Firefighters and equipment played a critical role in the recent floods in Cumbria and only days ago, Firefighters returned from Haiti having deployed as part of the UK International Search And Rescue (UK - ISAR) Team.

These achievements have taken investment in training and development, partnership fire safety initiatives and equipment which, have and will continue to, really make a difference and help to keep people safer. This investment is set to continue in 2010 and is a key feature for the year ahead as set out in the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP). The plans to build new fire stations in both Rochdale and Bury will ensure that the 2,000 Fire Service staff are positioned in key locations around the conurbation to meet the demand for services.

"The Fire and Rescue is not identified as a special case, so we will need more than ever to continue to change and adapt as all public services"

The efficiencies that GMFRS has found have not adversely affected the Service; in fact real emphasis has been placed on further improving the Service, which is why it is reviewing areas such as its management structure. Fire Authority Chairman Councillor James Pearson welcomed the Authority's budget recommendations: "The current global financial crisis is having a major impact on the provision of public services going forward. The Fire and Rescue is not identified as a special case, so we will need more than ever to continue to change and adapt as all public services."

Vice-Chairman Councillor Paul Shannon said: "Balancing our prevention, protection and emergency response work is under constant review, and we believe that these proposals will allow the Service to continue to make Greater Manchester a safer place for all.

The budget plans will go forward to the Fire Authority meeting on 11th February for final approval.  These value-for-money proposals come in the wake of a recent Audit Commission report showing that overall the Fire Authority is 'performing well', 'operationally effective', 'influential nationally' and 'innovative in its approach to modernising.' "

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