Avon Fire Authority have taken significant steps to acknowledge the climate crisis and biodiversity loss that the world is facing, by making binding commitments to take action and unanimously supporting both a Climate and an Ecological Emergency Declaration.

The move comes following the approval of Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s (AF&RS) Environmental Strategy 2020-2030, which outlines the Service’s approach to protecting the environment, managing the Service’s impacts and being more climate-resilient.

Central to the Service’s strategy is an ambitious commitment to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2030, in alignment with the Service’s four local authorities’ commitments, which the Authority has agreed to deliver by making the Climate Emergency declaration.

AF&RS are increasingly responding to incidents which are a result of climate change including grass fires during hot and dry periods throughout summer time and providing humanitarian assistance in instances of flooding when there’s been prolonged and heavy rainfall.

Avon Fire Authority Chair, Cllr Donald Davies said: “As a Fire Authority we collectively recognise the threat of climate change and the risks it poses for us all, particularly as a front-line organisation directly responding to these risks. We also recognise the hard work of the Service in effectively addressing this so far and I want our communities to feel assured by the further action that has been undertaken.

“In declaring a Climate and an Ecological Emergency we have reaffirmed our commitment to ensure that environmental protection remains at the forefront of fire service business and acknowledges the work the Service is committed to achieving through our Environmental Strategy and supporting action plans.”

Avon Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Mick Crennell said: “I am very proud of the work that has been undertaken by our staff to get us to a position where we can make this public statement to our communities.

“We have already taken significant steps to reduce our carbon emissions, whilst maintaining the same level of service delivery. Over the past 10 years, the Service’s carbon emissions have been cut by 59%, by making efficiency improvements in our buildings and fleet, sourcing cleaner energy and implementing changes in our operational practices.

Going forward we will apply a climate change lens to all our policies and procedures, generate more of our electricity from renewables, build net zero carbon fire stations and transition to a low emissions fleet. We will also be identifying further opportunities to enhance the green space and biodiversity on our sites as well as protecting ecologically sensitive areas in or near incidents.

CFO Mick Crennell continued: “Our key strategic priorities as an organisation are Making our Communities Safer and Making our Service Stronger and an important part of this is improving the quality of life for our communities and our staff. Measures we are taking to do this include addressing air quality issues by operating lower emissions vehicles and protecting the local ecology by applying environmental best practice to all our training activities and when responding to incidents.

“We are committed to improving our Service and protecting our environment is central to this. Our ambitious plans will guide us in our continued journey in contributing to a safer and healthier future for all.”

The ten year Environmental Strategy was initially shared and discussed by the Performance Review & Scrutiny Committee (PRSC), prior to their recommendation for a Climate Emergency Declaration, and subsequent further recommendation of an Ecological Emergency Declaration, being made to the full Fire Authority.

The Environmental Strategy, which outlines the Service’s environmental journey, is underpinned by six key principles:

  • An efficient and effective estate
  • Renewable energy generation
  • Cleaner transport and travel
  • Best practice in environmental protection
  • Sustainable procurement in practice
  • Ambitious environmental management

You can read the full Environmental Strategy 2020-2030 here.