Page 18 - December 2017
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                                  THE SALAMANDER | DECEMBER 2017
Dawn Whittaker
CFO East Sussex FRS
Dawn Whittaker is Chief Fire Officer at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS), joining ESFRS in June 2016 as DCFO.
Dawn’s career has been varied, beginning by studying Hotel, Hospitality and Tourism before joining the John Lewis Partnership as a graduate trainee in 1988. After 14 years, Dawn left to join Northamptonshire County Council as a Performance Manager, later becoming the Assistant Director for Public Protection, overseeing the planning and performance in Fire and Rescue, Trading Standards, Coroner’s Office, Registration Services and some parts of community safety for the county. In 2006, she moved into an operational position with Northants Fire and Rescue when she took up the Area Manager Planning, Performance and Finance role. She went “back to basics” and started her operational training, qualifying as a Silver and Gold incident commander after a rigorous assessment process, She progressed to ACFO and then DCFO in 2008. She’s had
what she describes as “many interesting experiences” as Officer in Charge of some fairly large incidents including floods, factoryfires,amajorincidenton the M1 and as Gold Commander at Silverstone during the Grand Prix.
In 2012 she undertook a six month secondment to Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service to offer strategic support as their management team were in the midst of the Atherstone– on-Stour investigation. In April 2014 she was offered an opportunity for a secondment to central government (DCLG and thentheHomeOffice)tosupport the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviserwithsomemajorpolicy work. She briefed ministers and liaised with various FRS during the Dec 2015 northern floods and also Bosley Mill and Didcot Power Station. Dawn has been the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) lead for Drowning Prevention and Water Safety since 2013 and sits on the new NFCC Prevention Committee. Dawn has also been a trustee of two charities and is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Royal Lifesaving Society UK.
A key focus for Dawn at ESFRS is helping the Service transform against a backdrop of decreasing budgets and growing expectations. “It could be argued that fire and rescue services have never before faced so much significant change. We are preparing for a new inspection regime and a nationalfirereformprogramme is being pushed forward; we are also seeing changed models for governance across the UK
FRS, with Mayoral responsibility (devolution) and PCC’s in addition to County, Metropolitan and Combined fire authorities. Collaboration is no longer a concept, but a legal duty across the country – whether with other fire and rescue services or different organisations. Dealing with this level of simultaneous change is challenging”. Change management has always been a focus for Dawn throughout her career, in particular, helping people and organisations improve planning, learning and performance. She maintains that strong leadership and innovative thinking are vital to ensure that the fire service is future focused, that the public are protected and staff understand their changing role in delivering the best for communities.
At ESFRS, we are looking again at our strategic direction after assessing the evidence we have gathered about our risks and community needs. This will no doubt result in some changes and our staff and community need to be prepared for us to do things differently in the future. We have already moved into a new area of public safety - drowning prevention. Even although there are other agencies and charities already working hard to improve safety in this area, as lead officer for NFCC, I know just how many lives can be saved if we work with other parties - a significant amount has been achieved since NFCC were invited to join the National Drowning Prevention Forum.
Well being
In managing all this change, we must continue to prioritise
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