Ex-police officer picked for Northamptonshire Chief Fire Officer role but fire union says appointment ‘dangerous’
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Her appointment is subject to the outcome of a Police, Fire and Crime Panel confirmation hearing that will take place in December 2023.
Mr Mold faced anger from firefighters and questions from the fire scrutiny panel following his previous interim appointment of close friend Nicci Marzec.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) Stephen Mold said: “Nikki’s commitment to public service shone out, and the interviewers were extremely impressed by her enthusiasm for leading Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and making a difference to the people of this county.
“I am confident that Nikki has the skills and qualities to take our service into the future and that her passion for public safety matches the dedication shown by our own firefighters and staff.
“Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has achieved so much over the last few years, and I am genuinely excited by the fact that Nikki will be a great fit with the existing chief officer team and together, they will consolidate and build on the improvements that have already been made.”
Ms Watson, who recently retired following a 36-year career in policing, was the chairman of the Avon and Somerset Local Resilience Forum for five years, where she led on ‘multi-agency collaboration and emergency preparedness’. She has been described as a ‘skilled civil contingencies gold commander’.
She said: “Throughout my career I have worked hard to make a difference to people and communities, and I am committed to doing my best for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and for the county as a whole.
“I am looking forward to working alongside the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, my colleagues and our local communities, and supporting the firefighters and staff, who are so passionate about the work they do, for the people of Northamptonshire.”
Her appointment is now subject to the outcome of a Police, Fire and Crime Panel confirmation hearing that will take place in December 2023.
Responding to her appointment the Fire Brigades Union Adam Taylor, executive council member for the East Midlands said: “Once again, PFCC Stephen Mold appears intent on appointing a chief fire officer who doesn’t have the necessary experience.
“We need our chief fire officer to have practical experience of keeping firefighters and the public safe when responding to fires, floods and other callouts.
“The fire service is entirely separate from the police force and must not treated as an afterthought.
"In July, Mold appointed an interim chief fire officer with no operational experience, who was forced to resign after two weeks. Firefighters and the public are already furious that he has been able to act with impunity. This is more than insulting – it is dangerous.
“It’s clear that this chaos will continue until we can take the power out of the hands of one unaccountable individual and give it back to a democratic fire authority.”