Firefighting veteran Graham Gash is to retire after more than four decades with Kent Fire & Rescue Service in which he made an important contribution to the safety of many major infrastructure projects including the Channel Tunnel and the Dartford Crossing.
Looking back over his career, GMO Gash said: “The fire service has been a huge part of my life for almost 44 years. We see people at the worst times in their lives and knowing that we can help and make a difference has meant a great deal to me. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my work but I feel the time is now right for me to explore other opportunities and interests.”
Having joined KFRS in 1971 as a junior firefighter in Dover, Gash became a part-time firefighter at 18, a whole-time firefighter three years later and has served at eight different stations including being Station Commander at Dover, Strood, Thames-side and Medway. In 2001 he was promoted to Divisional Officer and worked at the Service’s South and subsequently North Division as Group Manager of Operations.
He went to be the KFRS project lead for the construction of the HS1 railway, helped develop the water mist fire system in the Dartford Tunnel, undertook the review following the Channel Tunnel fire in 2008 and is currently Head of Channel Tunnel Operations for KFRS.
Speaking about his time on the Channel Tunnel project, Gash added: “I’ve made many friends on both sides of the Channel and have enjoyed working with colleagues developing operational intervention procedures and the new Water Mist Fire Suppression System for both the Channel Tunnel and the Dartford River Crossing Tunnels and the replacement on-board fire extinguishing systems for a high speed train operator.
“I’m grateful to my senior officers for having the confidence in me to run these special projects, which has been personally very satisfying and technically rewarding and is what’s kept me in the job so long.”
Throughout his long career, Gash also attended a number of large fires in residential, commercial and industrial premises and in September 2011, he received the Kent Medal, for his outstanding service and commitment to the county and people of Kent.
Key role in development of operational procedures
Director of Major Projects and Resilience, Steve Demetriou said: “It has been a real pleasure working with Graham and we are very proud of what he has achieved over the years. He has been an influential figure in the Service, playing a key role in the development of operational procedures and is a much respected, highly dedicated and professional Fire Officer.
"He has a wealth of technical knowledge and has also maintained a consistently high level of enthusiasm for the job for over 40 years. Graham is a unique character and we are going to miss having him around but I would like to join with my colleagues in wishing him a much deserved, long and happy retirement."
Graham has worked on many projects and helped to develop fire fighting procedures for many large and specialist sites in Kent and Medway and has lent his expertise to organisational bodies including:
- UK National Railways Representative for Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) in matters relating to the rail networks and rail tunnels. A member of the advisory group to the Chief Fire and Rescue Advisor, representing - CFOA and KFRS in the preparation of operational guidance to the Fire and Rescue Services for railways and road and rail tunnels.
- KFRS Liaison Officer to Network Rail and Network Rail (CTRL) Ltd, during and after the railway construction of the High Speed One railway.
- Member of the European Fire Service Tunnel Group (EFSTG) sharing information on Road and Rail Tunnel construction and operational.
- KFRS Project Manager for the Dartford River Crossing water mist fire suppression systems project.