Shropshire’s Chief Fire Officer Paul Raymond has announced his retirement after a 33 year career in the Fire and Rescue Service.
He has led Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service to become one of the country's most well-regarded Services despite being one of the smallest and having to reduce annual costs by over £3 million in the past few years.
Fire Authority chairman, Councillor Stuart West, said that Paul had been an “inspirational” leader of Shropshire FRS.
"Paul has been the sort of Chief every Fire Authority Chair would wish for. He has developed an excellent relationship with all Fire Authority members and delivered a high quality fire and rescue service that the people of our area demand," said Cllr West.
"He has dealt with a massive cut in our government grant while delivering a huge range of improvements that will keep us as one of the best fire services in the country. We shall all miss him but wish him well for the future."
CFO Raymond started his fire service career in 1980 when he joined as a Retained Firefighter whilst also managing a hotel. He joined full time in 1983 and subsequently served in a wide variety of posts in Hereford & Worcester Fire Service.
In 1998 Paul moved to Shropshire as the Personal Development Manager before being promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 2005 and Chief Fire Officer in 2009.
As chief of Shropshire, he streamlined the brigade while maintaining public safety at the same time as giving the Service’s 450 firefighters the best state of the art firefighting equipment making them better protected with modern fire kit, breathing apparatus and tactical radios. A new fleet of fire appliances has also been introduced and firefighters now attend 85 per cent of 999 calls within 15 minutes.
Shropshire Council leader, Councillor Keith Barrow ,said: "Paul Raymond is a much respected, highly dedicated and professional Chief Fire Officer. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Paul has made a significant contribution in developing one of the highest performing Fire and Rescue Services in the country.
"We are very proud of what Paul and all his staff have achieved over years and I would like to join with my colleagues in wishing him a much deserved, long and happy retirement."
Reflecting on his career in the Service, ahead of his formal departure in July 2013, CFO Raymond said: "I have had a long and enjoyable career and I am sad to leave this great organisation but I leave it in great shape, with a great team at the top and all my dedicated colleagues able to deliver a fantastic service to the public of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.
"I am very grateful to all my colleagues who have played a vital part in making Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service one of the best in the UK. The service is in a reasonably good place to see it through for the next 10 years."
The Authority has now begun a process to replace the Chief Fire Officer while also making an additional cut of £100,000 to management costs in the Service.
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