Fire chiefs from across Wales have come together in a bid to rise to the challenge currently facing so many public sector organisations − how to achieve financial savings without compromising on levels of service.

All three fire and rescue authorities in Wales have one common objective which is at the heart of everything they do - to work together for a safer Wales.

And it is with this in mind that senior officers got together at Powys County Command headquarters in Llandrindod Wells last week to demonstrate their commitment to the Welsh Government's agenda for improved collaborative working.

A new team called the National Issues Committee has been established to take the fire and rescue services forward in this aim - and members met yesterday for the first time.

Councillor Tudor Davies of Caerphilly County Borough Council was elected as the Chair of the new committee. On his election he said: "These are challenging but exciting times. We are determined to work together and to establish a team effort in driving forward the Welsh Government's public service improvement agenda.

"Our priority is to further improve collaborative working, service delivery and sustained service improvement for the benefit of Wales."

The National Issues Committee consists of senior officers and elected members from all three Welsh fire and rescue authorities. It will not only provide democratic accountability but also offer effective regional leadership to actively implement opportunities to work collaboratively with other emergency services and the wider public sector. Its aim is to deliver measureable improvements, including greater efficiency and a more citizen focused service.

A number of key collaborative areas have been identified as a focus for the committee, with a lead council member, and senior fire service advisor appointed for each of these areas. National Issues Committee meetings will be held bi-monthly to measure progress against key objectives and programme plans.

The Chief Fire Officers expressed their commitment to building and improving on existing collaboration. Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The importance of working together has never been higher on the public sector agenda than it is at present. Over the next few years, public-sector organisations like ours face the challenge of even more difficult economic choices. We are mindful of the advantages that collaboration can bring - in particular, in terms of working together to obtain improved resources, recognition and reward when facing times of finite resources."

Richard Smith, Chief Fire Officer at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We already collaborate on a day to day basis - but now we are looking at more than the intersection of common goals, rather we wish to establish a deep, collective determination to reach an identical objective which will stand us in good stead for the long term."

Huw Jakeway, Acting Chief Fire Officer at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Collaboration takes a high degree of commitment which involves sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus, and to be successful, it requires strong leadership from the very top of organisations. That is the whole ethos behind this new National Issues Committee."

Posted July 23rd, 2012 at 1405 by Andrew. Comment by emailing andrew.lynch@pavpub.com