National Fire Chiefs Council welcomes new Chair

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) welcomed its new Chair on 1 April 2021 for an initial two-year period.

Mark Hardingham, formerly Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, brings a wealth of experience to the role and has expressed his ‘huge honour’ to be undertaking the position and is looking forward to leading the NFCC with enthusiasm.

As well as being CFO for Suffolk, Mark was the Chair of NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Committee between 2017 and 2020. He played a major role following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Mark ensured the NFCC took a national leadership role with government, including working closely with ministers, civil servants, devolved administrations, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and many other partners in the wider Building Safety Programme.

Mark succeeds the first NFCC Chair, Roy Wilsher, who had been in the role since NFCC was formed, in April 2017.

With 30 years’ experience, which started in Essex, Mark was appointed as the Deputy Chief Fire Officer in Suffolk in 2010, before taking up the role of Chief Fire Officer and County Council Executive Director in 2013. Mark has also led peer challenges across five fire and rescue services.

Outlining his vision for NFCC, Mark Hardingham said, “I will lead this work with enthusiasm and in partnership with our key stakeholders to ensure the FRS is the very best it can be, and is one that we, and the public, can continue to hold in high regard.”

Mark highlights that the next few years will be a pivotal time for fire and rescue services. According to Mark challenges and opportunities range from the future funding of FRS and the NFCC, the Reform White Paper in England – alongside reform and change being considered in other parts of the UK.

Other areas include improvements in leadership, culture, equality, diversity and inclusion, along with the organisational learning, which will need to be implemented across the fire and rescue services from the Grenfell Tower and MEN Arena inquiries.

Mark added, “It is a huge honour to take on the role of Chair and I am looking forward to further embedding NFCC as the professional voice of the UK fire and rescue service (FRS).

“I will work tirelessly with my Chief Fire Officer colleagues, the wider NFCC membership and our key stakeholders, including governments. We will strive to make improvements that support FRS and enable them to, first and foremost, put the interests of the public, the community, and service users first.

“So much has been achieved since the NFCC was established in 2017. This progress being in the midst of the monumental challenges FRS have faced throughout. The Grenfell Tower tragedy, terrorist attacks, emerging challenges of fire safety in the built environment and the ongoing pandemic, and the Ready, Willing and Able response from the FRS, to name just a few.

“We have a very strong NFCC membership; I want to build on this so every member sees the benefits of the NFCC in terms of what it can bring to your FRS and its service to local communities; what it can bring to the collective body of the UK FRS; and, equally importantly, what it can bring to the individual personal and professional development for every member in their leadership role.

“I would like to thank my colleagues for their help and guidance during the last few months, especially to Roy. I have seen first-hand his commitment and dedication to establishing NFCC as the trusted and respected professional voice of the UK FRS and one of my aims is to see this continue to grow.”