Tyne and Wear’s most senior firefighter is set to retire after 26 years of service
The Chief Fire Officer at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has announced that he is set to retire later this year.
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Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Chris Lowther made the announcement on Monday, March 13, at the Fire Authority meeting.
Chris, from Gateshead, joined Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) in 1997 and rose through the ranks before he was appointed as the CFO in 2017.
He has spent the entirety of his 26-year-long firefighting career with TWFRS and has also held a number of prominent national roles with the National Fire Chiefs Council in that time.
When announcing his decision to retire, Chris expressed how proud he was to be able to represent TWFRS for more than two decades.
He said: “It has been the privilege of my life to be Chief Fire Officer of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
“I firmly believe this is the best Fire and Rescue Service in the country and that has everything to do with the people who work here.
“Their commitment to creating the safest community is evident every single day and I’m so proud to have worked here for 26 years.
“I will never forget my time on station as a firefighter, responding to emergencies and keeping people safe was what I loved to do.
“It is a career that has given me friends for life and an opportunity to meet thousands of people who call Tyne and Wear home.
“I will support the Fire Authority in the appointment of a new Chief Fire Officer but I know the future of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is bright.”
Chris started his career as an operational firefighter based at Gateshead Community Fire Station before going on to work in firefighter training, community safety and operations, while also taking a lead role on a number of national programmes.
During his six years as CFO, he oversaw two inspections from His Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) – achieving a three ‘GOOD’ ratings on both occasions.
Following Chris’ decision to retire, Cllr Phil Tye, the chairperson of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority, paid tribute to the departing CFO.
He commented: “Chris is a dedicated and committed public servant. On both professional and personal levels I will miss working alongside Chris and his quiet but reliable advice, opinions and support.
“I know I speak for every single member of the Fire Authority in my praise for Chris and the professional, friendly and highly effective and efficient way he has led the service and supported the Fire Authority.
“As we now start the search for our next Chief Fire Officer I offer both my personal thanks and that of the Fire Authority for all that Chris has done and achieved and I have no doubt we will mark that in due course.”
The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority will now begin the process of appointing a new CFO, with Chris remaining in the role until a replacement is appointed and handover period.
A replacement is expected to be announced in May, with Chris set to retire no later than the end of October.
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