Sandwell Councillor John Edwards has been elected as Chair of the West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority, which provides fire cover for almost 3 million people across the Black Country, Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull.
A former firefighter and previous Chair of the Fire Authority, Councillor Edwards paid tribute to the service after his appointment. "The fire service here in the West Midlands is the most efficient and effective in the country.
"Our firefighters often work at great personal risk on behalf of our communities, and they are second to none in their skills, training and dedication. Our support staff underpin the work they do and are an essential part of the fire service family."
Councillor Edwards added: "Through the use of fire-prevention programmes, huge improvements have been made in public safety during recent years with deaths and injuries from fires reducing significantly. But despite this, like all public services, the Fire and Rescue Authority is still coming under huge financial pressures.
"I will do my absolute best to ensure that we continue to provide a three-star service and resist anything that will undermine the excellence which exists in our fire service."
Sandwell Council leader, Councillor Darren Cooper, said: "The two previous chairs of the authority have also come from Sandwell and I congratulate Cllr Edwards on his appointment.
"The Fire Service is facing an extremely difficult period and he is immensely experienced, both as a councillor and in this particular area. I'm sure that experience will be invaluable in these testing times."
Posted: 12.23, 28.06.11, firstname.lastname@example.org