Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

About The Service

Here are some details about the service and the counties of Devon and Somerset.

1. Our Aims

We aim to make everyone in our area safer in their homes, on the roads or at work using our highly skilled and dedicated workforce.

2. Who we are

We are the 5th largest Fire & Rescue Service in the UK (covering over 1 million square hectares and 1.7 million people) and the 5th largest employer of staff of all UK Fire & Rescue Services.

We have 180 operational fire engines and our operating budget for 2010/11 is £75m per annum.

3. Your Service

In order to deliver its services, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority employs 2,255 staff:

•         798 Wholetime and Control personnel
•         1208 Retained personnel
•         249 Non-uniformed personnel

Fire-fighting and community safety activity is delivered from the 85 fire stations across the area, of which there are:

•         67 retained stations - the largest number in England
•         16 wholetime stations (including our Special Operations station) 
•         2 volunteer stations

4. Where we are

The Service Headquarters are based at Clyst St George, Exeter with Control Rooms in Exeter and Taunton.  On 8 June 2009, the Area Command structure was changed to allow us to manage more effectively both operationally and in our partnership working with other agencies and public authorities. 

There are now three area commands -

•         Somerset which covers Taunton, Bridgwater, Yeovil and Shepton/Wells
•         Central which covers Exeter, Exmouth, Bideford and Barnstaple and
•         Western which covers Plymouth (West and South), South Devon and Dartmoor and Torbay.

Training Centres are located at Plymouth and a shared facility at Severn Park, Avonmouth.  Fire safety enforcement is delivered from area headquarters.

•         Over one million people live in Devon and over half a million in Somerset. Both counties are expecting population growth with the increase mainly in the over 65 age group.  

•         The Black Minority Ethnic population of the total population is 1.2% in Devon and 2.9% in Somerset. Chinese is the highest ethnic population in both counties. Whilst there is no official recording, it is believed that Romany Gypsy are a significant ethnic minority - particularly in Somerset.

5. About Devon and Somerset

•         Devon is served by airports at Exeter and Plymouth (both of which are seeking to expand) and the ferry port at Plymouth. Rail links to London pass through the major towns and cities of both counties.

•         Devon has some 14,222km of roads (more than any other county in the UK) with 6,531km of road in Somerset. The main arterial routes give fairly good access across the counties but many areas can only be accessed through narrow lanes. 

•         Both counties are popular with tourists and enjoy over 300km of coastline (Devon is the only county in the UK with 2 coastlines totalling 285km and Somerset has 64km) together with beaches, estuaries, countryside, moorlands (Dartmoor and Exmoor), areas of outstanding natural beauty (including Quantock, Mendip and Blackdown Hills) and the many National Heritage sites.  Over 30 million tourist nights are spent in Devon and 9 million in Somerset each year, this significantly increases the population at peak times (by as much as 25% in Devon).

•         Employment within Devon focuses on the service and manufacturing industries, dominated by the public service sector, which accounts for nearly 30% of all employment.  The National Health Service is the largest single employer in Devon.  Agriculture and tourism are also important industries in the county, whilst Somerset’s dominant employment sector is Distribution, followed by Hotels and restaurants. The dockyard at Plymouth plays a key role in the maritime economy and the city also hosts the Devonport Naval Base.  At county levels, rates of unemployment are lower than the national average, but wages are generally poorer. Both counties are home to military bases (notably Royal Marine bases in Taunton, Lympstone, Plymouth and Bickleigh; and RNAS Yeovilton) and Hinkley Point nuclear power station sits on the coast North West of Bridgwater.