New Chief Fire Officer to lead fire service in Devon and Somerset
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority has appointed Gavin Ellis to lead the organisation, acting up as Chief Fire Officer.
At its meeting on the 18 April 2023, the Fire Authority agreed to a full-time secondment for Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell to the National Fire Chiefs Council.
The secondment is to help shape national fire and rescue policy. Lee will also seek out good practice from across the fire and rescue sector to support Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in its improvement plans.
Gavin has now taken up his role as Chief Fire Officer (CFO). His previous role of Deputy Chief Fire Officer will not be back filled.
Gavin joined Northamptonshire Fire Service at age 19 in 2000 before transferring to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in 2010 as Station Manager.
Between 2011 and 2017 he was promoted to Group Manager and worked in a variety of roles across the Service. In 2016, Gavin was seconded to lead a team that reviewed and produced an external report on the Royal Clarence Hotel fire in Exeter.
In 2018 he was seconded to the newly formed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). As Chief of Staff, he successfully led dedicated teams in delivering the first round of these independent inspections.
Gavin returned to Devon and Somerset in January 2020 and held the Area Manager Service Delivery Role from February 2020 until July 2020 when he was appointed as Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Director of Service Improvement, with key responsibility for driving service performance and preparing the launch of the 2022/2027 Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP).
In March 2022 he was promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer.
Lee Howell started his secondment – which is expected to last for 18 months - on Tuesday 9 May, but will remain available to provide advice and guidance, as and when required, to support the Executive Board of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
Commenting on the secondment, the Chair of the Fire Authority, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, said:
“I am delighted that Lee Howell will be supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council. Lee has a wealth of knowledge and experience that he takes with him but at the same time, he will be able to feed back national good practice, which helps the Service become even better.
“I am pleased to welcome Gavin Ellis into the Chief Fire Officer role and look forward to working with him as we continue our plans to make our two counties safer places to live, work and visit.”
CFO Gavin Ellis said:
“I am extremely proud and privileged to be given the opportunity to lead Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. I’m lucky to be aided by a fantastic workforce who are dedicated to providing the most efficient and effective services. I look forward to working with colleagues, partner organisations, and our communities as we continue our plans to make Devon and Somerset a safer place to live, work and visit.”