Q&A with Avon Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer – what does the future hold?

PUBLISHED: 13:00 10 July 2018

Mick Crennell

Mick Crennell

Contributed

Avon Fire and Rescue Service’s new chief fire officer (CFO) is ‘delighted’ with the progress made to better the service after a damning report.

Avon Fire and Rescue Service's year in numbers. Picture: AF&RSAvon Fire and Rescue Service's year in numbers. Picture: AF&RS

Mick Crennell has been appointed the permanent CFO of the service after taking over on an interim basis in August last year.

The Baker Report found a number of issues within the service, including ‘failings in leadership and culture’, which led to CFO Crennell’s predecessor Kevin Pearson’s suspension.

Reporter Eleanor Young sat down to catch up with the chief:


How are you settling in to your new headquarters?

Logically it makes perfect sense to be in the same place as the police in Portishead. We are a very collaborative organisation and it is not just with the emergency services but also local authorities.

Moving here has had a much better impact on our staff as there is a nicer working environment, albeit it has had an impact on staff in terms of additional travel. 

What are your hopes for the service?

Everybody wants it to be the best service it can possibly be, clearly we have had a tricky past couple of years and for me we are through the back end of it now.

The report was published and there were some significant criticisms of the service.

I had the opportunity to come in as a fresh pair of eyes to have a look at the report and to have a good look around and to set the organisation on the right track.

We have set up an improvement plan which we are a third of the 
way through and we hope to complete it by July next year and I am delighted with what we have done so far.


What are your experiences of the financial situation for emergency services?

We have not been immune from austerity and we have seen £14.5million worth of cuts since 2010 and that has an impact.

I think we have taken as much efficiency as we can and any further cuts will affect front-line services.


How will recruitment of firefighters change under your leadership?

It is one thing we have to do to ensure our future workforce is representative of the community we serve and I am hopeful we will continue to recruit but that depends on the funding picture.

In the next year or so we are looking at doing an apprenticeship scheme, which gives us an opportunity to make sure our cohorts are rich in diversity.

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