Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 23, 2018

Jo Turton, Chief Fire Officer For Essex

I kid you not! When I read this I wondered if April 1st had come early, because Jo Turton was an excellent CE of Lancashire. But Chief Fire Officer ?

The Southend Standard  newspaper writes “Earlier this year, questions were raised over the appointment of Jo Turton, a former council chief executive, to the role of chief fire officer of the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) because she had no experience in the field. Now, at a recent meeting of the Essex Police, Fire and Crime panel, the decision to hire a deputy chief fire officer with operational experience has been cemented despite initially deciding it was not necessary.

In the meeting Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst described it as a “material change in the previous decision by the fire authority” and added “The original decision was not to have a deputy chief fire officer but to have a director of corporate services, a director of innovation, risk and development and a director of operations. “But what we’re doing here is deciding to extend that by one.

“We tried it with a tighter team and I think to make sure we continue to deliver the high level of public safety at the same time as completing the change programme which was started by the Lucas report as well as driving the collaboration between the emergency services, we need the capacity at the highest level.”

“This was a problem that was pointed out by the Essex Fire Brigade Union when Ms Turton was appointed. FBU spokesman Alan Chinn-Shaw  told the Echo he was hoping for someone who was previously a chief fire officer with “valuable experience of protecting the front line from cuts” would be appointed.

Jo Turton, the former council chief executive of Lancashire County Council, is the first chief fire officer to be appointed directly into this post without fire service experience.

Defending the decision after the meeting, Mr Hirst said “These new roles largely replace existing positions and create a service leadership team ready to tackle the cultural and organisational change required to make the service as good as it can be. The new team will cost £98,657 more and will be funded out of the existing budget.

“Our priority was to find a leader capable of delivering the cultural change as further operational experience could be brought into the senior team. When I appointed Jo Turton I said publicly we would most likely be looking for a Deputy Chief Fire Officer to complement her leadership skills and knowledge with their technical expertise and operational experience. That is what we are now doing.”

Jo Turton said “Like other fire services, we face significant financial challenges and it is more vital than ever that we look at how we can effectively use our resources. The investment into our Service Leadership Team – including a Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Director of Operations, Director of Corporate Services and a Director of Innovation, Risk and Development – will deliver the capacity, expertise and flexibility needed to ensure we are able to respond to future challenges and opportunities. In providing these four positions within our Service, to replace the existing structure of three, I am confident that we are prepared for the future”.

A readerof the article commented “From a politician’s point of view it is all perfectly logical. Firstly, create a role of Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, offer a huge salary and benefits and then appoint someone who knows little about it. Secondly, task that person to appoint a Chief Fire Officer and let that person recruit a former Council executive who knows nothing about being a Chief Fire Officer. Thirdly, then spend £100k on hiring someone else to actually do the job as the Chief Fire Officer has no knowledge of fire fighting. Fourthly, then explain that the Chief Fire Officer was actually recruited to tackle cultural change. All makes perfect sense to a politician. I doubt any private company would ever knowingly recruit someone beyond his or her level of competence? They would not employ extra people, they would get rid and start again. Still it’s only public money at the end of the day and that, I suppose, is what is important”.


  1. More jobs for the boys and girls. Politicians and their lackeys are just in it for themselves.

    • And we pay for it all. Salaries of public employees, while reflecting skill and responsibility, are entirely unbalanced. We pay more for officials than we do for skill in nursing, for example. We force nurses to pay for parking at their place of work, we fund free all day parking for clerks in our borough council. It’s plain wrong!

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