Concern at deputy chief fire officer ad

By Craig RobinsonA UNION has voiced “reservations” after the Suffolk Deputy Chief Fire Officer job was advertised - and did not require applicants to have firefighting experience.

By Craig Robinson

A UNION has voiced “reservations” after the Suffolk Deputy Chief Fire Officer job was advertised - and did not require applicants to have firefighting experience.

Suffolk County Council is recruiting a new £80,000-a-year Deputy Chief Fire Officer (assistant director) to take over from Graham Smith.

The post, which is currently being advertised at a national level, requires prospective candidates to attend operational incidents, with training provided if they are not already from a fire service background.


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Vince Gell, Suffolk Fire Brigades Union spokesman, said: “I know that we wouldn't be the first service to appoint a civilian, but we still have our reservations about someone who hasn't got a fire service background coming through.

“Unfortunately, it's all part of the modernisation programme and someone with fire experience isn't always deemed necessary.

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“If it was the position of chief, then it wouldn't be as bad because they very rarely come on site, only for the big incidents like the Centre Parcs fire at Thetford a few years ago.”

He added: “However, the deputy chief is a different story because we deal with them directly. Usually they would be on site at a fire organising what was going on and taking charge of the scene.

“If someone comes in who isn't trained, then obviously they won't be able to take charge on the fire ground straight away because they wouldn't have a full understanding of the procedures.”

The advertisement said that Suffolk had public protection services to be proud of and any applicant would have to be “an inspirational leader”.

It continued: “You'll have the breadth of experience and understanding of public sector priorities to think corporately.

“You'll show the depth of your commitment to public service by championing our corporate vision and taking full responsibility for initiatives and projects.

“Above all, you must have the resolve to work tirelessly for the well-being and safety of the people of Suffolk.

“The post requires an 'on-call' arrangement and you will be required to attend operational incidents. If you are not already from a fire service background, appropriate training will be provided.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said it was following national guidelines on the recruitment of senior fire officers, which stated they did not have to come from a “uniform” fire service background.

She pointed out that Durham and Darlington had appointed non-uniform chief fire officers and Somerset, Cumbria and Cornwall had appointed non-uniform deputy chief fire officers.

The spokeswoman stressed it was important for the council to “get the right person with the right calibre” for the post.

craig.robinson@eadt.co.uk

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