Cheshire’s former Chief Fire Officer recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list

Paul HancockPaul Hancock, who retired from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) in June 2018 after 34 years in fire and rescue, has been made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE).

He became Chief Fire Officer in October 2009 having previously held the post of deputy since joining Cheshire in 2007. This followed a 22-year career in his home county with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service where he attained the post of assistant chief fire officer. He also acted as joint chief fire officer for both Cheshire and Cumbria in 2016-17.

Paul’s drive to achieve saw CFRS undergo a major change programme between 2013 and 2018 to increase efficiency and improve how it provides services to the community. In addition to saving £7.7m, the Service was recognised nationally for its approach to improving community safety, medical co-response, its innovative and life-saving Safe and Well programme and its data analysis and risk management. His hands-on commitment to equality and diversity saw Cheshire named as the best performing emergency service in the country in the 2018 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.

His innovative approach to collaboration is evident through establishing the Blue Light Collaboration programme with Cheshire Police. This sees joint teams deliver support services to both organisations, the first such arrangement in the country. As project director, he held a pivotal role in the creation of North West Fire Control, a shared emergency call centre for four fire and rescue services. He had overall executive responsibility for all aspects of developing the substantial project, including merging the control staff and systems of four separate services. His drive and ability to secure the commitment of executives and political leaders was critical in ensuring the successful delivery of the project, at the time only the second regional control centre to be brought into use. This launched in 2014 and has, to date, saved £7.4m for the services involved. 

Paul’s vision and leadership has resulted in significant transformation of fire and rescue at national and local levels. In addition to his role of Chief Fire Officer, he was President of the Chief Fire Officers Association during 2015-16. As President he fundamentally transformed the structure of the organisation, leading to the creation of the National Fire Chiefs Council. This saw the establishment of a dedicated Chair, overhaul of governance arrangements and structures, and the introduction of nine committees to underpin and drive improvement across the sector.  This has enabled fire and rescue services to improve co-ordination on national and critical issues, improve sector leadership and technical advice and foster better engagement with Government and others – crucial as responsibility for fire and rescue transferred to the Home Office during his tenure.

A keen sportsperson, Paul is voluntary chair of Active Cheshire, a charity aiming to embed physical activity into everyday life. Since becoming chair in summer 2017, his ambition to get more people active has seen the charity go from strength to strength. This included holding an inaugural ‘PlayFest’ festival (attracting over 5,000 visitors), launching a month-long walking festival and delivering a sports competition involving 1,700 schoolchildren across Cheshire.

Paul’s achievements have ensured lasting changes so that locally, regionally and nationally, fire and rescue services are better placed to face future challenges and improve outcomes for communities.

Date published: Fri, 07 Jun 2019 15:38:03 GMT

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Paul Hancock