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Organisation structure

Our Executive Board

The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Executive Board, led by the Chief Fire Officer set the direction and strategy for the Service, define its values and ensure it is delivering an effective and efficient service for the communities they serve.

The Board have pledged to make Devon and Somerset safe places to live, work and visit and are working towards making it one of the best performing fire and rescue services. Led by the Chief Fire Officer, the Board meet weekly to discuss and make decisions on key service issues. The Board also report to the Fire and Rescue Authority.

Lee Howell - Chief Fire Officer

Lee Howell has been a Chief Fire Officer since 2004 having first been appointed as CFO and Director of Public Protection in Suffolk. He has been the CFO of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service since 2009 and since that time has also held roles as the President of the Chief Fire Officers Association (2011/12) and Chief Fire and Rescue Advisor and Inspector for Wales (2013/15). In the latter role, he reviewed the business continuity arrangements for the three fire services in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government, presented an efficiency review and also managed the Governments preparedness and response to a national industrial relations dispute.

He has been a Trustee of the UK Firefighters Memorial Trust for over 10 years and is currently the Deputy Chairman for the Trust. Lee chaired the UK Arson Prevention Forum until 2019 and brought agencies together who had an interest in or responsibility for arson. He also drafted arson related ‘State of the Nation’ reports which were provided to Ministers and other key stakeholders. This raised awareness of deliberate fire setting and assisted agencies to mitigate its effects. He established and chaired the Joint International Fire Board, having worked with the Department for International Trade to develop an International Fire Export ‘Offer’, supporting UK business to trade overseas.

In April 2019 he returned to Devon and Somerset following a 14 month full time secondment to Avon and Somerset Constabulary, where he led on a Home Office police transformation scheme bid to deploy data and analytics to reduce demand, threat and harm within a multi-agency model. Lee was also the first fire service officer to complete the strategic command course run by the College of Policing which he attended in 2019. In 2020, Lee was asked to take on the National Fire Chiefs Council lead role for the data and digital portfolio.

His interests include rugby union and surfing. He is married, has two children and lives in Devon.

Joe Hassell - Deputy Chief Fire Officer

Joe began his fire service career in 1991 with Essex Fire and Rescue Service. In 2013 he was promoted to Station Manager and transferred to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. Working within the area of learning and development, Joe led the Incident Command team in devising a new training and assessment framework that ensured commanders were safe and effective during incidents.

Joe’s next role involved the managing of 15 fire stations in the Plymouth area, before being selected for strategic development. This involving working directly with the Chief Fire Officer as Executive Support Officer, this was followed by a promotion to Area Manager.

Next as Head of Transformation, Joe and his team over a period of two years delivered highly complex and substantial change initiatives through the Service’s, Safer Together programme.

After a short period as Head of Service Delivery, Joe had temporary promotions to Assistant Chief before being appointed in July 2020 to the Deputy Chief Fire Officer’s position.

Joe completed his MBA in 2019 and is the NFCC lead for ‘On-Call.’ He is married with three children.

Pete Bond - Assistant Chief Fire Officer - Director of Service Delivery

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Pete Bond joined Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in 1997. Prior to the fire service, he worked in financial services and studied as a mature student at Exeter University.

Pete served as a firefighter and supervisory manager at Ilfracombe, Barnstaple and Danes Castle stations before being promoted to Station Manager with a focus on Fire Safety. In 2009, Pete was promoted to Group Manager in charge of Fire Control, before transferring back to North Devon as Group Commander.

Pete then moved to headquarters as part of the Service Development Team working on change projects and was subsequently promoted to Area Manager in charge of strategy and business change and now Assistant Chief Fire Officer.

Throughout Pete's career he has been determined to ensure that the safety of communities and that of the fire and rescue staff that serve them in Devon and Somerset is paramount both in delivering and improving the Service.

In his spare time Pete enjoys watching rugby and undertaking DIY projects.

Gavin Ellis - Assistant Chief Fire Officer - Director of Service Improvement

Gavin began his career at the age of 19 joining Northamptonshire Fire Service in 2000 where he had many roles from Firefighter to Station Manager.

Gavin transferred to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in 2010 as Station Manager within the Exeter Group. Between 2011 and 2017 he was promoted to a variety of Group Manager roles across the organisation.

In 2016, Gavin was seconded to lead a team that reviewed and produced an external report on the Royal Clarence Hotel fire in Exeter.

Next Gavin was promoted to Area Manager, and in 2018 was seconded as the Chief of Staff to the newly formed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). He successfully led dedicated teams in delivering the first round of these independent inspections.

Gavin returned to Devon and Somerset in early 2020 and in July, was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Director of Service Improvement.

Gavin is committed to leading the organisation through future challenges and driving professional standards forward to ensure the best service is delivered to the communities of Devon and Somerset.

Gavin lives in Devon with Karen, between them they have four daughters. Gavin enjoys spending time with his family walking their dog.

Mike Pearson - Director of Governance and Digital Services (and Clerk to the Fire and Rescue Authority)


Mike has worked in local government for over 35 years. He started working in the fire service in Somerset in 2004 when it was still part of Somerset County Council and has been a senior manager with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service since its inception in April 2007.

Mike is responsible for a range of key support functions including ICT, Organisational Assurance and Democratic Services. This important role ensures that these key support functions help to effectively deliver an efficient front line operational service.

As Clerk to the Authority and Monitoring Officer, Mike is jointly responsible with the Chief Fire Officer and the Treasurer for ensuring that the Authority makes decisions on a sound legal basis. Mike is also the Authority's Senior Information Risk Owner and as such he is responsible for developing and leading a culture of good information management and has ownership of the overall information risk policy and procedures and advises the Executive Board on information risk.
Until recently, Mike also held the lead role in national procurement, working with HM Government and other partner agencies to deliver savings opportunities for all English fire and rescue authorities through collaborative frameworks and other initiatives.

Mike is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and has previously been a qualified EFQM Business Excellence Model assessor and an MSP Practitioner. He has a keen interest in lean systems practices and is passionate about continuous improvement.

Amy Webb - Director of Finance and Resourcing (Section 151 Officer)

Director of Finance and Resourcing and Treasurer (Section 151 Officer) to the Fire Authority since November 2017, Amy is focused on ensuring financial rigour for the organisation and providing the Fire Authority and the Executive Board with accurate, timely and detailed financial information.  She was previously Head of Finance from March 2014 and Senior Finance Manager January 2013.

Amy is keen to promote excellence as a goal for herself, the finance team and the wider organisation, seeking to work with all functional areas of the Service to promote better understanding of finance and financial management. Amy is also focused on driving change and improvement across the organisation as a whole, promoting inclusion and diversity within both the Service and wider society.

"Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation."- Mahatma Gandhi.

Amy acts in a voluntary capacity as a Trustee for CFOA Charity, Treasurer for Women in the Fire Service, as well as Treasurer and Chair of Audit Committee for the Exeter Drugs Project charity and also takes an active role in EFFA, a local Animal Welfare charity.

A fellow member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Amy qualified in 2011 and has a background in private sector organisations, business re-design and financial risk management.  Amy brings positive enthusiasm, forward thinking and a desire for continuous improvement in all things. 

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