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CHIEF FIRE OFFICER: A new Dawn for North Wales Fire Service

CHIEF FIRE OFFICER: A new Dawn for North Wales Fire Service

Chief Fire Officer Dawn Docx - Image: LDRS

A new chief fire officer for North Wales has been chosen to replace the outgoing Simon Smith in the wake of an independent report into promotion processes.

Dawn Docx was formerly employed by North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (NWFRS), joining in June 2006 as an assistant chief officer for finance and procurement.

After rising to deputy chief fire officer three years later, she stayed until 2017, when she took up the corresponding role with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

She will rejoin her old colleagues in North Wales in June when current chief fire officer (CFO) Simon Smith retires.

The new boss will be the first female chief officer of the region’s fire service.

CFO-designate Docx said: “I am immensely proud to be returning to North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and look forward to continuing the excellent work in making North Wales a safer place to live, work and visit.

“Our role is to prevent, protect and respond and within my new role I will strive to make sure we do this as effectively as possible.”

One of her first tasks will be to implement the findings of a review into promotion processes ordered by her predecessor.

CFO Smith agreed to the study after staff told local Fire Brigades Union (FBU) officials they felt “insulted” by a report claiming there weren’t enough staff of the requisite “quality” within NWFRS to promote into management positions.

The report said a “Future Leader” apprentices scheme would give candidates “an increased potential to progress beyond the firefighter role and into supervisory, middle and senior manager positions”.

It also said “a reduction in the quality of candidates applying for promotion has led to an inability to permanently appoint” from within the ranks, in sufficient numbers.

More than 50% of NWFRS managers are in temporary positions, some for up to four years – and up to three grades higher than their original permanent roles – despite passing nationally agreed promotion competencies.

This affects their final pension scheme as it calculated on their “substantive permanent role”, as well as leaving them at risk of losing their temporary promotions with immediate effect.

After speaking to senior officers, in hastily convened meetings last month, CFO Smith said the study “was not intended in any way to insult existing staff” or imply those applying for promotion “lacked in quality and numbers”.

It is understood the independent review he subsequently ordered looked at the “consistency and transparency” of promotion processes, while recognising the “valuable skills and contribution of staff”.

A NWFRS spokeswoman said: “We have agreed a number of actions to be completed over coming weeks and we will be working with our workforce and their representatives to implement these.”

Speaking about the new appointment Conwy county councillor Peter Lewis, chair of North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “I am delighted to welcome Dawn back to North Wales.

“There will be many challenges post-Covid and we are confident Dawn will address those challenges and maintain the high standards North Wales Fire and Rescue Service are renowned for – and we look forward to working with her in the near future.”

Words: Jez Hemming, Local Democracy Reporter


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