The Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council has expressed his sadness following the death of Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer, Paul Fuller, CBE.

NFCC Chair Mark Hardingham commented: “It was devastating to receive the sad news about Paul. Paul had been Chief Fire Officer for Bedfordshire since his appointment in 2002; and someone I worked very closely with in my previous role as a Chief Fire Officer colleague in the East of England.

“Paul was the President of the Chief Fire Officers Association in 2013/2014, Chair of CFOA Services Limited for a number of years and he played a big part in helping to shaping the future of the UK FRS.

“His remarkable contribution to the UK fire and rescue service was recognised in 2008 when he was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal and again in 2016 when he was made Commander of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours.

“Paul’s charity work was outstanding; he was a trustee of the Children’s Burns Trust; an area he was passionate about and worked to bring about change. Paul also campaigned for greater fire safety in children’s dressing up clothes and on the revised regulations for furniture fire safety.”

As well as serving on a number of national bodies, Paul was Chair of the Fire Sector Federation, Chair of the Trustees of the Fire Fighters Charity, Chair of Fire Sport UK and represented the UK as part of the UK delegation to the Annual United States Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Conference. Paul also took part in various open water swims and achieved the incredible feat of climbing Kilimanjaro in 2019.

Mr Hardingham added: “He was incredibly knowledgeable and a very popular CFO with his staff and also his NFCC colleagues. I was proud to not only call him a long-standing colleague, but a friend.

“I know I speak for all CFOs - and many senior FRS leaders - across the country when we say we all benefited from Paul’s extensive experience, advice and wise counsel over the years. His loss will be felt by all of us. My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”

Paul joined the Fire Service in 1978, and worked in West Midlands, West Sussex, Staffordshire and Wiltshire, as well as a secondment to Warwickshire and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2012.

Bedfordshire’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Andy Hopkinson said: “We are still coming to terms with the loss of our beloved Chief, an incredibly well respected man whose outstanding leadership of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service during almost 2 decades made such a positive difference to our staff, our partners and our communities. There are undoubtedly people walking the streets of Bedfordshire today thanks to Paul’s dedication and devotion to the Fire and Rescue Service.”

“He was an outstanding man with a big character, admired by so many people and whose reputation and influence amongst the fire service community means his loss will be felt not just within Bedfordshire and the UK but around the world. Paul was a personal friend of mine and a great mentor to me during my time here in Bedfordshire and I will personally miss him dearly. This will be an incredibly difficult time for Paul’s family, friends and colleagues, past and present, and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with them all.”