The appointment of a Buckinghamshire Chief Fire Officer has raised eyebrows at the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service announced last week (November 15) announced that the service will be led by Louise Harrison as the new Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive Officer. 

But the FBU claims the service will be led by an appointee selected from the police force instead of the fire service which “undermines both public safety and trust”.

This follows a report by the inspectorate uncovering leadership concerns within the service, finding it “overly reliant” on neighbouring services and “inadequate” at protecting the public through fire regulation.

The FBU’s fears rest on the fact that firefighting’s technical aspects require years of hands-on experience, which the new fire officer lacks.

Southern region FBU executive council member Steve Wright emphasised the need for the fire service to stay distinct from the police.

Wright, expressing the FBU’s apprehension at the decision, stated that the appointment pegs down public safety and trust.

He said: "Firefighting is a humanitarian profession. It is essential that it remains separate from the police, and this separation is critically undermined by the appointment of police to run the service.

“On an operational level, we are deeply concerned that the new Chief Fire Officer will have no experience of fighting fires – a technical job which takes years of on-the-job learning. 

“This appointment undermines both public safety and public trust.

“The Fire Brigades Union has met with Buckinghamshire Fire Authority to outline our concerns. Local brigade officials will continue to work constructively to facilitate public safety across the county, and will continue to make our position clear.”

Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority said the recruitment process was 'open and vigorous'.

On her appointment, Louise said: "I am absolutely delighted to be joining Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service.

"I am genuinely excited to be returning to the community I grew up in. It means a great deal personally, to be able to continue my commitment to public service here. I am joining a fantastic team and am confident that we can continue to meet the challenges ahead and continue a journey of positive improvement, delivering a quality service to the communities of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.”   

Louise joins Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service after working in policing for over 31 years most latterly as the Director of Operations for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC).

During her career she has undertaken a variety of uniformed and specialist roles, and has a wealth of experience in community safety, partnership and multi-agency working.

Her previous experience has seen her working alongside Fire & Rescue Services in a variety of roles including collaboration projects and key local authority initiatives.

As well as working at a national level in public safety, Louise has worked regionally including as Strategic Prevent Lead within the Counter Terrorism Northwest unit.