It's funny how some organisations just pass you by. You're not really aware of their existence until they stick their heads above the parapet and force themselves into the public consciousness.

For example, it had never really crossed my mind there is such a thing as the Cheshire Fire Authority until this week.

Having never really considered it before, I decided to do a bit of investigating (which wasn't that difficult because all the information is on the internet).

Anyway, the fire Authority is made up of 23 elected members (councillors to you and me). The breakdown is eight each from Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East Councils, three from Halton Borough Council and four from Warrington Borough Council (4). The current political composition of the Authority is eight Conservative; 12 Labour; two independents and one Liberal Democrat.

So far, so good but what exactly does the fire authority do, I hear you ask. Well in answer to your question, it is a separate legal body, with the power to set council tax and to set its own policies and procedures, without seeking the approval of the constituent local councils.

So it can levy the annual budget (which will be reflected in how much of your council tax is paid in the fire authority precept); it agrees the staff, vehicle and other resources needed to deliver an efficient service; it approves the fire service's plans, policies and strategies and does what seems like really dull stuff approving the composition of the committees, sub-committees, advisory groups and task groups of the authority.

As it goes, fire authority members are not paid a salary for their work but they do receive allowances.

And it is the thorny subject of cutbacks and allowances that has brought the fire authority to my attention.

In December last year, a report in the Guardian revealed Government statistics that showed since 2010, 179 firefighter jobs have been lost in Cheshire, going from 524 to 325. The number of fire-related deaths has gone from one in 2009/10 to eight in 2016/17; non-fatal injuries caused by fire has risen from 75 in 2009/10 to 152 in 2016/17; and average response times has gone from seven minutes and 22 seconds in 2010/11 to nine minutes and 54 seconds in 2016/17.

These figures prompted Andrew Fox-Hewitt, brigade secretary for the FBU in Cheshire, to say: “Since 2010, we have lost more than 170 full-time firefighters in Cheshire and response times have increased significantly meaning it takes us a lot longer to arrive at incidents.

“Each year the number of people injured in fires is rising and, tragically, over the last four years, there has been an increase in deaths. It is no coincidence that this is happening at a time when budgets are being relentlessly cut.”

But in these times of austerity, it's good to know that the members of Cheshire Fire Authority are taking one for the team.

Members currently receive a basic annual allowance of £4,160.27 a year, but under plans which are due to be considered on December 12, that figure could be reduced... to £4,119.08.

That means that each 'ordinary' authority member will be giving up a whopping £41.19 for the cause. Well done them.

But the real sacrifice will come from chairman of the fire authority – currently Cllr Bob Rudd, a Labour councillor from Cheshire West. He is currently entitled to a special responsibility allowance of £13,686.48 but if the proposals go ahead, he will see his allowance plummet to just £13,550.97. That's a saving of a whole £135.51.

We can all sleep easier in our beds this week, secure in the knowledge the fire authority has our backs.

Just as a footnote to this, the new, reduced allowances haven't been agreed yet. They still have to be debated and signed off by the full authority next month.

I can't wait.

One good thing to come from the fire authority this week is a handy guide on how members should behave themselves on social media.

They have been told they should communicate clearly, informally and respectfully – avoiding any ‘unhelpful online arguments’.

Advice to ‘pause before posting’ and recognise that irony and sarcasm ‘may be misinterpreted’ is given, as well as a warning to be ‘particularly careful if considering posting when tired or emotional’.

I smiled when I saw that last piece of advice. Just look up the phrase 'tired and emotional' on the internet. I did.

According to the fount of all knowledge Wikipedia, 'tired and emotional' is a chiefly euphemism for drunkenness.