I joined Southampton International Airport Fire Service as a probationary firefighter in April 1999 after successfully completing the six-week basic training course.
I was in service at the airport for a year before I was nominated to enrol in the leading fire-fighter training programme consisting of six different fire service modules followed by a final written exam. After I passed the final exam in 2003, I applied for the position of leading fire-fighter. The lead fire fighter role came with many more responsibilities and by far the one I enjoyed and got the most satisfaction from was passing my knowledge onto other staff members within the airport environment.
In 2004 I was responsible for the initial start-up and development of the commercial training which Southampton airport still provides. We ran a variety of courses to a multitude of different customers ranging from Fords, Exxon, Goodwood hotel, H.M Coastguard, NHS and even RDF television (Scrapheap challenge)! As part of this development I wanted to ensure at all times that we met the customers’ expectations. To achieve this regular audits were put in place not only by myself but also by external auditing bodies. To assist with and maintain the professionalism of all the instructors I ensured all staff undertook the PTLLS (preparing to teach lifelong learning skills) qualification.
Alongside my fulltime employment I also joined Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service as a retained fire-fighter at Waterlooville fire station IN 2000.
When I first joined Waterlooville, this was the busiest retained station in the county – if not the country. We were attending between 650-700 calls each year. During my 16 years with HFRS and 17 years at Southampton airport I attended a variety of different fires in a variety of different places. This gave me the opportunity to gain valuable experience along with being able to enhance my fire-fighting skills.
Since leaving the fire service I was keen to continue in a training role as I like working with a variety of people. It wasn’t a hard decision to make when Jason asked if I would be interested in becoming a trainer for Benfield Fire Safety particularly as I recognise the importance of fire safety within the workplace.
Joined the Royal Navy in 1979 as a Naval Airman (Aircraft Handler) straight from school. After completing my training at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose in Cornwall I joined RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset where I was part of the airfield fire and rescue team. From this time to leaving the service in 1987 I served as ship’s company onboard HMS Bulwark, HMS Illustrious as part of 809 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) Operating Sea Harriers, RNAS Lee on Solent as part of the airfield fire and rescue team, before returning to RNAS Yeovilton to join 845 NAS operating Wessex and SeaKing helicopters for operations with Royal Marine Commandos. I also had small stints serving at HMS Rooke in Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.
After leaving the navy I started working at Southampton Airport in 1987 as a Fire-fighter in the Airport Fire & Rescue Service. During my time there I worked my way through the ranks to Station Manager before leaving Southampton Airport to become a Station Manager at Gatwick Airport Fire & Rescue Service in 2003. I retired from Gatwick Airport Fire & Rescue Service in 2017 after completing 30 years in a job that I loved.
After a couple of years of doing my own thing and looking after a new puppy Golden Retriever, I thought that I should get back to doing something worthwhile. As I had a qualification in undertaking fire risk assessments (FRA’s) Jason asked if I would like to work for him undertaking FRA’s and also fire safety training, which I have been doing since 2019.
My interest in the fire sector started back in 1989 when I joined a Retained Fire Service on the Island of Alderney in the Channel Islands. The role was totally voluntary and played a big part in mapping my career. The fire service is responsible for the safety of domestic homes, commercial buildings and all local people and visitors to the island. The fire service is a multi-functional service provider, call types varied and were as follows; Building fires both domestic and commercial, Road Traffic incidents, chimney fires, cliff rescue, pleasure craft support for the movement of water from sinking ships in support to the RNLI, Aircraft accidents as a secondary support to the airport fire and rescue service.
After two years voluntary service, I was inspired to change my career and I was successful in obtaining a position as a fire fighter within the airport fire service in 1990. I attended basic training on the island of Guernsey and attended a fire fighter course at Teesside Training college in 1991. In 1992 I moved to the UK following a successful application to Carlisle Airport which at the time was expanding it services and increasing to a category three license. After two years at Carlisle Airport and a short period of employment at Liverpool Airport, I was successful in obtaining employment at Southampton International Airport in 1995.
From 1995 to 2015 I was employed by the BAA group at Southampton, London Heathrow and Edinburgh Airport in the following rolls. Leading fire fighter, Sub Officer, Station Manager and Chief Fire Officer. The BAA being of a large and diverse organisation seen me also fulfil a training and fire safety role. Both of these disciplines allowed me to obtain vast knowledge and experience in a training function and I obtained a Train the Trainer, Assessor and Verifier qualifications. Other qualifications included Breathing Apparatuses Instructor, Abrasive Wheel instruction along with various first aid qualifications. The fire safety role also allowed me to obtain various qualifications and provided exposure and liaison with London fire brigade and Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service for project-based activities. The operation roles also provided an insight into fire investigation and report writing.
I medically retired from the airport roles in 2005 and embarked in setting up my own fire safety company. I oversee and undertake fire risk assessments and all aspects of fire safety training. I employ a small diverse team of professionals who are all ex fire fighters and fire officers from my previous sectors.
From 5 years old I always wanted to be ‘to be a fire engine driver’! My passion came true in 2000 when I became a Firefighter at Southampton International Airport and found myself driving Major Foam Tenders. I became a Leading Firefighter in 2002 and later qualified as Crew Commander. Together with operational Firefighter duties, I was a trainer in road traffic accident, fire safety, health & safety, manual handling, health & safety representative and qualified risk assessor. My risk assessment work for the Fire Station was noticed by the airports’ Head of Safety and I was asked to undertake a two-year project assisting all airport departments to identify gaps and raise the quality of their risk assessments, reporting to the Board of Directors in preparation for CAA audit & H&S audits.
Unfortunately retired from the fire service due to injury, I have since helped several businesses improve thier their H&S related administration with bespoke workplace inspections, risk assessments, operating procedures, safe working practices, accident trend analysis, policies and most importantly ensuring they have Fire Risk Assessments and tracked their compliance. I have also been a part time Lead Invigilator at several schools and at Southampton University, ensuring procedures, paperwork collation and exam integrity was maintained at all times.
When not at my desk, I am usually busy as Team Secretary for Hampshire Search & Rescue Dogs or getting extremely muddy as an Operational Support – a professional volunteer Search & Rescue Dog team on call 24/7 to assist the police to physically search for vulnerable, high risk missing persons. Working alongside the Police, Coastguard, Fire Service, Drones Units and fellow Lowland Rescue teams, to help find vulnerable missing people and get them back to safety is extremely rewarding (even at 2am in the pouring rain!) Search dogs are just amazing – ‘the dogs nose knows’ is a certainly a fitting phrase and I am grateful to Benfield Fire Safety supporting my role to help the community when an urgent ‘callout’ comes in.
Having recently joined the team, I hope to make a difference to the background operations at Benfield Fire Safety. Although customers may not see me face to face, I hope to be a positive part of your experience in choosing Benfield Fire Safety to support your business’s fire safety needs.
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