Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) has appointed a new Chief Fire Officer.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Paul Hedley will take over the reins from Alex Bennett following his retirement in July. Paul was appointed Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2009 and was promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer shortly after, in 2013.
Paul began working at Cramlington and Blyth fire stations 29 years ago and has since worked in a variety of front-line and managerial roles at a number of fire stations across Northumberland.
During his time with NFRS, Paul has led on numerous projects including the introduction of the Community Safety Academy, swift water rescue and fire service flood-response improvements. He has also been the NFRS lead on a number of successful European projects.
Paul said: "As a born and bred Northumbrian, and having worked in roles throughout Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service since 1987, I'm honoured to have the privilege to lead this great organisation. I'm very much looking forward to working with staff, the service leadership team, the Fire Authority, our colleagues in Northumberland County Council and partners across Northumberland to continue to develop and improve the service we deliver on behalf of the residents and communities of Northumberland.
"Everyone is aware that we've been through some challenging times, and there will be more to come, but because of the fantastic people we have working at all levels of the service, I'm confident that we can meet those challenges and continue to provide the first-class resilient service which Northumberland can be proud of.”
Paul, 47, lives in Bedlington and is married with a young son. His interests include the Northumberland countryside and coast, theatre, keeping fit, following Newcastle United and spending time with his family.
Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of the council and member with responsibility for Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Paul has been a real asset to Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service for many years, leading on a number of ground-breaking projects and I am delighted he is taking up the position of Chief Fire Officer. I have every confidence that Paul will use his years of experience and skills, along with his great enthusiasm to support the organisation in maintaining its first-class standards and reputation."
Current chief fire officer, Alex Bennett, announced his retirement in April this year. Steven Mason, Northumberland County Council’s chief executive, said: "Alex has led the organisation through some challenging times and I am confident that Paul will ensure that Northumberland continues to have one of the best fire and rescue services in the country which is able to meet and respond to the further challenges that lie ahead."