CFO Kerr 180The Chief Fire Officer Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service has retired from his position following 30 years of operational service across the country.

Chris Kerr joined the then Northern Ireland Fire Brigade in 1985. He started his career as a Firefighter at Central Fire Station and has served in all the Belfast Fire Stations throughout his career.

Commenting on the former chief's legacy Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service Chief Executive Mr Jim Wallace said: "Mr Kerr leaves the organisation following 30 years of impeccable service, where he has dealt with extremely testing circumstances. Chris has had Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service at the forefront of his responsibilities and I thank him for what has been a magnificent career."

Former CFO Kerr served in South & East Tyrone as District Commander from 1993 -1996, and then became by Divisional Officer from 1996 – 2003. He was appointed to Area Commander for Eastern Area Command, in March 2003 and in 2004 assumed additional responsibility for specialist rescue operations which includes the Specialist Rescue Team, Hazardous Materials, Marine Firefighting and Flooding operations and represents NIFRS nationally on specialist operations and flooding forums.

During his carer, he was also awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal in the 2010 New Years Honours list ahead of his appointment as Chief Fire Officer in 2012.

New CFO appointed
As a result of his retirment the role of Interim Chief Fire Officer has been appointed to former Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dale Ashford.

CE Wallace continued: “On behalf of Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, I want to congratulate Dale Ashford on his appointment to Interim Chief Fire Officer. Dale’s credentials and track record throughout his career within the organisation speak for themselves. Dale brings a wealth of experience from various operational roles where he has served with distinction.

“Dale is extremely well regarded across many areas of public life in Northern Ireland and I have no doubt he will continue to represent Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service with professionalism during his role as Interim Chief Fire Officer.”

New CFO Ashford has 28 years' service protecting the community, joining the then Northern Ireland Fire Brigade as a Firefighter in 1987. He has also served as head of health and safety within the organisation and in 2009; he took up the role as Area Commander for Training and Development at NIFRS Training Centre before being promoted to the role as Assistant Chief Fire Officer in February 2012, where he was responsible for Road Safety, Emergency Response and Health & Safety. He is an active member of the Chief Fire Officer's Association (CFOA) and a member of the Irish Fire Investigation Association.

Speaking following his appointment, new Interim Chief Fire Officer Dale Ashford said: “It is a privilege to accept this position as Interim Chief Fire Officer of Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, an organisation that saves lives and protects our community and an organisation that I am personally extremely proud of.

“I would like to acknowledge the tremendous service of my predecessor Mr Chris Kerr, who has led the organisation through challenging times and was a fantastic ambassador for Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. Chris leaves the organisation in a very strong position going forward and I hope that I can build on his achievements.

“I look forward to working alongside our Senior Management Team, the NIFRS Board and every single member of our dedicated staff who share the privilege of being part of a frontline service that saves lives every day. Undoubtedly there are many challenges ahead but I am confident that we will face them together to ensure the people of Northern Ireland remain safe and proud of their fire and rescue service.”