Avon Fire Authority select preferred candidate for new Chief Fire Officer

Avon Fire Authority have named Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Simon Shilton as their preferred candidate for the position of Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) Chief Fire Officer, following a rigorous recruitment process.

Simon Shilton currently holds the position of ACFO for Service Delivery Support at AF&RS responsible for portfolios including training, learning and development, health and safety, diversity and inclusion, risk management and operational assurance.

The decision comes after the current Chief Fire Officer, Mick Crennell announced his plans to retire from AF&RS at the end of March 2022, after 30 years with the fire and rescue service.

Cllr Brenda Massey, Chair of Avon Fire Authority said: “On behalf of Avon Fire Authority, I am pleased to announce Simon as our preferred candidate for Chief Fire Officer, subject to ratification at the next full Fire Authority meeting in February.

“These past few weeks have seen the undertaking of a rigorous, robust and challenging recruitment process to find a suitable successor pending the Chief Fire Officer, Mick Crennell’s retirement in March this year.

“Throughout the process Simon has demonstrated professionalism and tenacity, applied his extensive experience, and whole-heartedly exemplified his passion and dedication to the Service.

“We are confident that Simon possesses the skills, understanding and qualities to be the next leader of the Service.”

Individuals from across the country were encouraged to apply for the role, which required candidates to submit an extensive application, take part in a stakeholder panel question and answer session, engage in a four-hour business continuity exercise, and deliver a presentation before taking part in a formal interview with Fire Authority members.

Having been part of the fire and rescue service for 28 years, during his time, Simon has held the positions of Station Manager, responsible for Urban Search and Rescue, Incident Command Trainer and Training Manager.

Joining and spending the first 15 years of his career at Avon Fire & Rescue Service, he was located as an operational firefighter at Avonmouth, Bath, Temple and Southmead Fire Stations.

In 2008, Simon worked for West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service for nine years, leaving as an Area Commander, before re-joining AF&RS in January 2017 as Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Service Delivery Support. During this time, he has also held the temporary position of ACFO for Service Delivery.

On being informed of the decision, Simon said: “I am extremely proud and honoured to be selected as the Authority’s preferred candidate for Chief Fire Officer.  It is a role that I feel incredibly passionate about and following a challenging recruitment process, my enthusiasm and passion for the Service is as strong today as it was the day I joined.

“Throughout my career, I have been fortunate my experiences have given me real insight into the fire and rescue service. I recognise the fire sector, both locally and nationally, have seen many changes and challenges and I am committed to doing and being the best for Avon Fire & Rescue Service, both now and in the future.

“During my time I have also had the opportunity to meet and work with some truly brilliant people. I look forward to working alongside the Fire Authority, my colleagues and in our local communities, that I have so passionately strived to make a difference for throughout my career and will unreservedly continue to do so.”

The Fire Authority’s People and Culture Committee decision to appoint Simon as Chief Fire Officer will be submitted to the next full Fire Authority meeting on 11 February 2022 for ratification and subject to approval, he will take up the post on 1 April 2022.