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The Isle of Wight’s new Chief Fire Officer will be Steve Apter.

Steve will take up the top job in November more than 20 years after joining the Island’s Fire and Rescue Service as a retained firefighter.

He is thought to be the only Chief Fire Officer in the country to have worked his way up through a single organisation from a part time fire-fighting position to that of the most senior officer.

Taking over in November

Steve, 44, who will be promoted from Assistant Chief Officer, Operations and Resilience to move into the new role, takes over from current Chief Fire Officer Paul Street who is to retire in November.

Welcoming the appointment Cllr Barry Abraham, IW Council cabinet member responsible for the service, said; “It speaks volumes for the dedication that exists throughout the Island’s Fire Service that Paul, who has spent his entire career in the Service on the Island is to be replaced by someone who has also spent their whole career serving the Island’s community.

“I am delighted that we are able to appoint Paul’s successor from within our own ranks. Steve, like Paul, is a man who understands both the Island and the Service. Both have worked hard to improve the Service beyond all recognition in recent years and I am sure that this improvement will continue under Steve’s command.

Involved since 1990

Steve, who lives in Havenstreet with his wife Andrea and three young children, joined the IW Fire and Rescue Service in 1990 as a retained firefighter at Shanklin. He was made full-time the following year and has undertaken various management roles within the service over the past 15 years.

“I believe passionately in the Service and, having worked my way up through the ranks, I have a clear understanding of how it operates now and how it will need to operate in the future,“ Steve said.

“My priority is to ensure the Service builds on the improvements we have achieved in recent years. That means some changes to the way we operate but I am sure the decisions we are taking are absolutely in the best interest of the Service and – more importantly – in the best interest of the residents we serve.

“I look forward to working with members, officers and all my fire-fighting colleagues to achieve this. The Service is now more professional and more resilient than the one I joined and I am determined to play my full part in improving the Service still further.

“The role of the Service and indeed of the Chief Fire Officer has evolved enormously in recent years. In the coming years there will be an increasing emphasis on working with residents to help prevent accidents and fires before they happen. This is a part of the job I am particularly passionate about.”

Many outside interests

Operationally, Steve has commanded many large incidents including the service’s prolonged response to the big freeze at the end of last year.

Outside of work, he enjoys sport, particularly cricket, and music. He is also a governor at Binstead Primary.

Steve will be supported by another long serving Island firefighter Stuart May, who is being promoted from Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Prevention and Protection, to Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

Stuart Love, IW Council Director of Economy and the Environment, said: “What is particularly pleasing for me is that the two most senior roles in the service are being performed by two hugely experienced firefighters who are local officers who have been instrumental in shaping and improving the service.”

13 June  2011

Top Award for Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service

The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, part of the Isle of Wight Council, has won the British Quality Foundation’s prestigious Southern England Excellence Award.

The announcement was made at the 2010 UK Excellence Award ceremony held on Thursday 21st October in London – this is the British Quality Foundation’s premier event of the year, which attracts many of the UK’s most prominent business leaders.

The award was open to any organisation in the South or East of England (including London) and honours organisations that actively pursue and measure a comprehensive approach to performance improvement. The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service was one of three finalists and competed against high performing organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

This is the first time a fire service has won this award.

A five-day on site assessment was carried out in June by a team of experienced and qualified European Foundation for Quality Management assessors who interviewed and held focus groups with internal and external stakeholders. The British Quality Foundation’s assessment panel met later in the year to agree the finalists for the award.

The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service has made dramatic performance improvement over recent years. In 2005 it received a ‘poor’ rating under the Comprehensive Performance Assessment by the Audit Commission. The service is committed to continuous improvement and through its Fire Service Modernisation project it is striving to become a more modern, responsive and efficient fire service through changing working arrangements and refurbishing and replacing many fire stations.

The Fire and Rescue Service has already been named as ‘Fire Service of the Year’ at an awards ceremony organised by Improvement and Efficiency South East earlier in the year and achieving the Southern England Excellence Award confirms the outstanding achievements delivered.

Paul Street, Chief Fire Officer, said: “We are delighted to receive the British Quality Foundation’s Southern England Excellence Award as it recognises the efforts and dedication of all of our staff in driving forward service improvements. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the support of council members and senior council officers who have been instrumental in delivering changes to produce an effective and modern fire and rescue service to be proud of.”

Cllr Barry Abraham, Isle of Wight Council Cabinet Member for Fire and Community Safety, said: “This prestigious award is testament to the work we have carried out over recent years to create a modern fire service fit for the Island’s needs. I am very proud of our achievements and our officers who have delivered these improvements.”

25 October 2010

Island Firefighters Awarded for 20 years Exemplary Service

Firefighters from across the Island will gather at Cowes Yacht Haven on Tuesday 28 September for a ceremony to mark 20 years of exemplary service.

The Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight will present the firefighters with medals for ‘Long Service and Good Conduct’ on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.

Senior Fire Officers will be in attendance along with councillors from some of the wards where the firefighters live and serve.

A total of nineteen firefighters will be present at the ceremony, another eight will receive the medal but are unable to attend the ceremony due to prior commitments.

The firefighters receiving awards serve their communities in Freshwater, Ventnor, Ryde, Bembridge, Sandown, Shanklin, Cowes and Newport fire stations as well as Fire Control and Fire Service Headquarters at Newport.

At the ceremony, which takes place on the Island every two years, the Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight Major General Martin White will be greeted by the Chief Fire Officer Paul Street, before entering the Yacht Haven followed by the colour party, three fire officers wearing ceremonial uniform carrying the fire brigade standard.

The Royal Warrant will be read by the Warrant Reader before the firefighters are called up individually to receive their medals.

Cllr Barry Abraham, Isle of Wight Council Cabinet Member for Fire and Community Safety, said: “The fire and rescue service plays a hugely important role in our community and it is fitting to see these firefighters acknowledged for their hard work and commitment. This event is a highlight in the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service’s calendar and I am looking forward to meeting those being awarded for their dedication and impeccable service.”

28 September 2010

Large Fine for Fire Safety Breach at Cowes Property

The owners of a Cowes restaurant have both been fined £1700 and ordered to pay costs after admitting breaking an order related to fire safety at the property.

Abdul Kalam and Salim Islam, who both run Saffron in Cowes High Street, pleased guilty to a charge in relation to UK fire safety regulations.

The prosecution was brought by the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service after inspections at the property discovered a room above the restaurant was being used for sleeping accommodation.  This was not allowed as in April 2009 the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service had issued a Prohibition Notice following a visit to the building, where it was found there were inadequate means of escape from the first floor.

The order prevented Mr. Kalam and Mr. Islam from using the first floor for accommodation until adequate means of escape were in place.

A visit by an officer from the Fire and Rescue Service in February 2010 found the first floor was still being used for sleeping accommodation and the concerns over the means of escape still remained; IW Council subsequently began legal action.

Both Mr. Kalam and Mr. Islam were ordered by the Court to pay a total of £2065 each.  It is the first time the local authority has brought such a case to court.

Graham Orchard from the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, who is responsible for community fire prevention and protection said “This prosecution demonstrates that the Fire and Rescue Service takes the safety of our business communities and members of the public very seriously.  Despite repeated warnings and visits, the first floor at Saffron continued to be used for sleeping accommodation; this put at risk those who used the property because the building did not have a satisfactory means of escape should there be an incident such as a fire.  Fire safety regulations on licenced premises are there for a reason and we will not tolerate any disregard for the law”.

7 July  2010

Fire Service Modernisation Newsletter – Issue 2

Publication of the newsletter has been delayed until mid-July, in order that important information regarding the project can be included.  Apologies for the delay, please contact matt.ford@iow.gov.uk with any queries.

30 June  2010

Fire Service of the Year 2010

The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service has been named as Fire Service of the Year at an awards ceremony organised by Improvement and Efficiency South East (IESE).

The IESE awards, which took place in London on Thursday 4 March, are designed to recognise major achievements in local authorities in the south east region.

The awards were given to councils which have made a significant step change in improving access to valuable services for local people and demonstrating effective innovation in efficiencies and improvement.

The Island’s fire and rescue service has made considerable progress and improvement since receiving a ‘poor’ rating under the Comprehensive Performance Assessment by the Audit Commission in 2005. Under the Fire Service Modernisation project it is striving to become a more modern, responsive and efficient fire service and has made considerable progress to date.

The fire service was nominated for the award by all of the region’s chief fire officers. Isle of Wight Council’s Chief Fire Officer Paul Street and Isle of Wight Council Cabinet Member for Fire and Community Safety, Cllr Barry Abraham accepted the award which was presented by Cllr Bryan Cope from Kent County Council.

Paul Street said: “We are delighted to be named as Fire Service of the Year, it recognises the efforts of all of our staff and working closely with our representative bodies. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the support of council members and senior council officers who have been instrumental in driving through changes to produce an effective and modern fire and rescue service to be proud of.”

Cllr Barry Abraham said: “This award is testament to the work we have carried out over recent years to create a modern fire service fit for the Island’s needs. I am very proud of our achievements and look forward to building on this success.”

Notes for editors

Improvement and Efficiency South East (IESE) is one of nine Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs) and was established to work with the south east’s 74 local authorities to facilitate and fund projects that will drive efficiencies and service improvements across the region. www.southeastiep.gov.uk

09 March 2010