Mark Jones has been confirmed as the new Chief Fire Officer for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service following a Confirmation Hearing of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel.
Mr Jones appeared before the panel – which is made up of elected councillors and independent members – at The Guildhall in Northampton yesterday afternoon (July 6).
After fielding questions from various members of the committee, the panel has now written to Stephen Mold, the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, to confirm the appointment.
The Commissioner named Mr Jones as his preferred candidate for the role in June, following a comprehensive recruitment process that involved interviews with panels involving key partner organisations, as well as a Q&A sessions with firefighters and staff.
Speaking at the panel, Mr Jones said: “Everything I have learned in my research and through the recruitment process has shown to me that Northamptonshire wants continued and sustained improvement of the Service, and I’m drawn to that challenge as I’ve achieved it everywhere I have been. It’s already achieved a lot of that under the current leadership and I’m attracted to the challenge of improving it further.
“The challenges for Northamptonshire are the same as many UK fire services in that we are heading into tight financial times. We are going to have increased demand with restricted resources and that’s going to be a challenge across the UK. Northamptonshire has changed to the governance of the OPFCC and has had a good funding injection after being a poverty-stricken county fire service, and that’s a chance for us to build on something.
“With any change agenda we have to take our people with us. We also have to make sure that our public at large understand the reasons for change, and why we are trying to improve the service for their benefit.”
Mr Jones will take on the role in October once current Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey retires from the role after more than 30 years in the fire service.
Currently based in Australia, where he is Chief Officer of the South Australia Country Fire Service, Mr Jones has also had stints as Chief Fire Officer for Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service from 2010 to 2015, and also as Deputy Chief Fire Officer in Essex after joining the Fire Service in 1985.
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold is looking forward to welcoming Mr Jones to the county following his confirmed appointment.
The Commissioner said: “This is an important day in the future of our fire and rescue service. Since I assumed responsibility for the governance of NFRS, we have been able to deliver real improvements in performance, investment in the fleet and equipment, large scale recruitment of new firefighters and improved response times.
“We are rightly proud of what we have been able to achieve, and I want to pay tribute to Darren Dovey, our current Chief Fire Officer, who has shown great determination, vision and ambition to ensure that the transferral of governance was as smooth as it has been. He has provided me with great support and counsel, which has helped us to navigate the various challenges and issues we have faced.
“The recruitment process was robust and it became very clear that Mark Jones was the right person to take the Service forward into the next stages of its development – and that is creating a positive culture, embracing change and taking the undoubted skills of our firefighters and staff to build on the already significant work being undertaken in the broader community safety agenda.
“The feedback we got throughout the process consistently showed that Mark is a strong leader with a clear approach that will help me to deliver the priorities in the Police, Fire and Crime Plan.”