South Yorkshire’s chief fire officer is to retire in January after a 30 year career

South Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer is to retire in January, it has been announced, with the service now searching for his replacement.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 2:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 3:33 pm

South Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer is to retire in January, it has been announced, with the service now searching for his replacement.

His departure will mark the end of a 30 year career which started when he joined the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, rising to the role of group manager before a spell with Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate.

He joined the South Yorkshire service in late 2006 and served as assistant and deputy chief officer before being appointed to his current role in 2011.

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In 2017 he was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal, which is the highest award of its nature which can be bestowed on serving officers – and was presented as a result of his dedication and commitment to the service.

At the time, the Government acknowledged the service had gone through “unprecedented periods of change” and through his career Mr Courtney has had to cope with the impact of austerity cuts, which have had a severe impact on the service.

It now works in closer collaboration with police in South Yorkshire, increasingly sharing facilities such as buildings and vehicle maintenance work.

His last year in the position has been particularly turbulent, with the service needing to, potentially, save millions of pounds in addition to cuts already made.

The service had proposed cutting numbers of firefighters staffing their trucks, a controversial suggestion which was finally rejected by members of South Yorkshire Fire Authority, the political body which controls the service.

They believe the service’s financial position will not be as precarious as the worst-case projections suggest is possible.

During his career Mr Courtney has held many important positions outside the brigade, including chairing the National Fire Chiefs Council National Operational Effectiveness Working Group.

He has also chaired the South Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum and is a trustee of the Emergency Services Museum, based in the old West Bar fire and police station in Sheffield.

His experience is such that his guidance has been sought by the Home Office.