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Last updated: 22/01/2020, 5:30 PM

New fire commissioner signs covenant with UK Armed Forces

22/01/2020 17:10
London-wide
Our people

London Fire Brigade’s first Commissioner in 75 years to have served as a commissioned officer in the British army has today sign a covenant with the UK armed forces.

The agreement formalises the Brigade’s commitment to supporting the Armed Forces community and recognises the contribution to the country that serving military personal, veterans and their families have made and continue to make.

Armed Forces Friendly

It also sets out for the first time a clear framework outlining how London Fire Brigade staff who are reservists are supported, should they be called upon serve. The Brigade has committed to having up to 85 members of staff available to serve with the Volunteer Reserve Forces (VRF) of  the army, air force or navy. The final decision remains with the Brigade ahead of any deployment but this commitment enshrines it as an armed forces friendly organisation.

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said:

“It is a great honour that one of my first official duties is to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, which shows our commitment to supporting both London Fire Brigade  staff who are reservists and the wider military family. I am extremely proud of the Brigade’s on-going association with the British Armed Forces and the sacrifices our staff have made in protecting the nation.”

Perfect Compromise

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe attended Sandhurst before serving in the 12th Regiment Royal Artillery between 1996 and 2000. Andy served as a troop commander and reached the rank of Battery Captain, taking part in major NATO exercises in Germany and Poland and two tours of duty in Northern Ireland.

Leading Firefighter Debbie Young has combined a career in the Brigade while achieving her dream of a role within the military. Debbie said:

“The Armed Forces was always a career choice that was of interest to me when growing up, but following work experience at age 14 at my local fire station I decided that the fire service was the direction I wanted to go. I joined London Fire Brigade, but the military was always still in the back of my mind - an itch that I still felt I needed to scratch.

“I loved being a firefighter and didn’t want to have to give that up. The perfect compromise that would allow me to follow both my dream jobs was to become a reservist. The Brigade were very supportive when I approached them, as I was going to need to take a two month sabbatical to attend the Reserve Commissioning Course full time. They saw the benefits to the Brigade  having one of their staff receiving training at an establishment renowned for providing the best leadership training in the world.”

Brigade's Naval History 

The covenant was signed by Commissioner Andy Roe and Assistant Chief of Defence Staff Major Gen Brookes-Ward at the Brigade’s headquarters.

This year marks 121 years since the Brigade stopped recruiting exclusively from the Navy. The first chief officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) Captain Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, favoured recruitment of men from the Navy. He felt that the trainees would be disciplined and would require less training, making the recruitment process more efficient. It was not until Shaw’s retirement in 1899 that naval experience was no longer compulsory for new recruits. The Brigade’s connection with the Navy continues  in the terminology we use today. For example ropes are called ‘lines,’ equipment is ‘stowed’ on a fire engine and there is a ‘watch’ rather than a shift system.

Major General Simon Brooks-Ward said:

"London Fire Brigade understand and recognise the value of supporting the Armed Forces community. By making this public pledge of support and commitment of signing the Armed Forces Covenant, they genuinely believe in the value of supporting the Armed Forces and will massively benefit from not only being a Forces Friendly organisation but also Forces Friendly employer.”