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

After working as a retained firefighter for over 20 years at the Island’s Fire and Rescue Service, Steve is set to assume the top job in November.

He is believed to be the sole Chief Fire Officer in the nation who has progressed from a part-time firefighting role to the highest-ranking officer position within the same organization.

Taking over in November

At 44, Steve will be elevated from his position as Assistant Chief Officer of Operations and Resilience to assume the new role. He will be succeeding the current Chief Fire Officer, Paul Street, who is set to retire in November.

Cllr Barry Abraham, the IW Council cabinet member responsible for the service, welcomed the appointment and emphasized the dedication that permeates throughout the Island’s Fire Service. He remarked that it was a testament to this dedication that Paul, who has devoted his entire career to the Service on the Island, would be succeeded by someone who has also spent their entire career serving the Island’s community.

The official expressed his pleasure that appointing Paul’s successor from within their own ranks is a matter of great delight. He further added that, much like Paul, Steve has a deep understanding of the Island and the Service. Their hard work in elevating the Service to new heights in recent years has been commendable, and he is confident that Steve’s leadership will ensure that this progress continues.

Involved since 1990

Steve, who resides in Havenstreet with his wife Andrea and their three young children, began his career at the IW Fire and Rescue Service as a former firefighter in Shanklin in 1990. He became a full-time firefighter the following year and has since held multiple management positions within the service over the last 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 how we operate, but I am sure our decisions 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 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, more specifically, that of the Chief Fire Officer has undergone significant transformation in recent times. In the upcoming years, there will be a growing emphasis on collaborating with residents to prevent accidents and fires from occurring. This aspect of the job is particularly dear to me, and I am enthusiastic about working in this area.”

Many outside interests

In terms of operations, Steve has successfully managed numerous large-scale incidents, including the prolonged response to the big freeze at the end of last year.

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

Steve will receive support from Stuart May, another dedicated Island firefighter who is being elevated from his current position as 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, which operates under the Isle of Wight Council, has been awarded the esteemed Southern England Excellence Award by the British Quality Foundation.

The announcement was made at the 2010 UK Excellence Award ceremony held in London on Thursday, October 21. This event is considered the premier event of the year for the British Quality Foundation and is attended by some of the UK’s most influential business leaders.

The award was open to all organisations in the South or East of England, including London, that actively pursues and measure comprehensive performance improvement. The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service was one of the three finalists and competed against other high-performing organisations from the public, private, and voluntary sectors.

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

In June, a team of qualified European Foundation for Quality Management assessors conducted a five-day on-site assessment. The assessors interviewed internal and external stakeholders and held focus groups as part of the assessment process. The finalists for the award were determined later in the year when the British Quality Foundation’s assessment panel convened.

The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service has significantly improved its performance in recent years. In 2005, the service received a ‘poor’ rating during the Comprehensive Performance Assessment conducted by the Audit Commission. However, the service is dedicated to continuous improvement. It has implemented the Fire Service Modernisation project, which aims to provide a more modern, efficient, and responsive fire service by refurbishing and replacing fire stations and changing working arrangements.

The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service was recognized for its exceptional accomplishments in winning the ‘Fire Service of the Year award at an awards ceremony organized by Improvement and Efficiency South East earlier in the year. Winning the Southern England Excellence Award further confirms the impressive progress made by the Fire and Rescue Service.

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, an Isle of Wight Council Cabinet Member for Fire and Community Safety, said: “This prestigious award is a 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 officers who have delivered these improvements.”

25 October 2010

Island Firefighters Awarded for 20 Years of 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.

On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, the Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight will award medals for ‘Long Service and Good Conduct’ to the firefighters.

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

Nineteen firefighters will be present at the ceremony to receive the medal. In comparison, an additional eight firefighters, who cannot attend due to prior commitments, will also be awarded the medal.

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

The ceremony, which takes place on the Island every two years, will begin with the Chief Fire Officer, Paul Street, welcoming the Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Major General Martin White, at the Yacht Haven. The colour party, consisting of three fire officers dressed in ceremonial uniform and carrying the fire brigade standard, will follow them.

The Warrant Reader will read the Royal Warrant 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 been fined £1700 and ordered to pay costs after admitting to breaking an order related to fire safety at the property.

Abdul Kalam and Salim Islam, co-owners of Saffron located in Cowes High Street, pleaded guilty to a charge relating to UK fire safety regulations.

The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service brought the prosecution after conducting inspections at the property, which revealed that a room above the restaurant was being used as sleeping accommodation. This violated fire safety regulations, and a Prohibition Notice was issued in April 2009 following a visit to the building, which highlighted the 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 was in place.

In February 2010, an officer from the Fire and Rescue Service visited the property. They discovered that the first floor was still being used for sleeping accommodation, and the concerns regarding the means of escape remained unaddressed. As a result, the Isle of Wight Council initiated 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 is a clear indication that the Fire and Rescue Service is committed to ensuring the safety of both business communities and the public. Despite several warnings and visits, the first floor of Saffron continued to be used for sleeping purposes, posing a significant risk to those using the property due to the inadequate means of escape in case of a fire or other incident. Fire safety regulations on licensed premises are in place for a good reason, and any violation of the law will not be tolerated”.

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 with any queries.

30 June  2010

Fire Service of the Year 2010

The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service has been named 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 southeast region.

The awards were given to councils that have significantly improved access to valuable services for local people and demonstrated effective innovation inefficiencies 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. The Fire Service Modernisation project strives to become a more modern, responsive and efficient fire service and has made considerable progress.

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

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 achieved 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 a 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 southeast’s 74 local authorities to facilitate and fund projects to drive efficiencies and service improvements across the region. 

09 March 2010