Ely’s former fire chief hangs up his helmet after almost 30 years

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The former station commander at Ely Fire Station has hung up his helmet for the very last time, after almost three decades of service.

Ely resident Alan Brown, the Head of Emergency Planning and Resilience at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the county is in a ‘significantly robust position’ in the event of a large-scale emergency, when he retired this week.

alan-brown-presention-2016_30472600884_oAlan has served nearly 30 years, working in a variety of roles, but spent his last year focusing on emergency planning in conjunction with partner organisations and other blue light networks such as police and ambulance.

“The local resilience forum was set up in 2004 so we have been working with other organisations for some time, looking at how we would cope in the event of a large-scale emergency. But when my role as Head of Emergency Planning and Resilience was created last year, it allowed me to really help push the forum forward, with my colleagues.”

Amongst the various large-scale emergency scenarios Alan looked at were plane and train crashes as well as such issues as what would happen in the event of an outbreak of pandemic flu or fuel shortages.

A saxophonist with the City of Ely Military Band and a keen pilot, Alan said having spent a year working on various scenarios, he was confident Cambridgeshire would cope in the event of a large-scale emergency.

“I am really pleased the service has been able to move emergency planning forward quite significantly in the last year. If there was an emergency, all the plans we would generally need are in place and as a community I would say we are in a significantly robust position to operate.”

Alan didn’t join the fire service until he was 29 years old, having studied food technology at the start of his career.

He worked as a product manager for a potato packing company before joining CFRS as an on-call firefighter in Whittlesey for two months. He then became a wholetime firefighter working across various watches in Cambridge.

During his time with the Service, Alan has also worked as a station commander at Ely Fire Station as well as a training commander at the Training Centre in Huntingdon, introducing officer training days to refresh essential skills.

Alan, 58, also worked as a District Commander in the Peterborough district for 18 months, running the fire stations and supporting the crime reduction partnerships in the local community. His last role prior to Head of Emergency Planning and Resilience was running Operational Support.

Some of his larger projects included looking at how Government plans to introduce a Regional Fire Control would work. Although this system was never introduced, Alan said the work he and his colleagues did on this made the process of combining Cambridgeshire’s control room with Suffolk’s much easier.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland described Alan as “one of the most hardworking people” he had worked with.

Chris said: “His focus on the Service has been absolute and he has been a great person to work with. He is always very willing. I knew if I asked him to do something it would be done and it would be done well. He has been a pleasure to work with.”

Alan concluded: “I had a really great career. I can honestly say the number of days that I woke up during the whole twenty-nine-and-a-half years where I didn’t fancy coming to work, I can literally count on one hand.

“I think the enduring memory for me is the people. They are incredibly motivated to support the community and that I found to be very inspiring.”

Alan plans to make the most of his retirement. He has a share in a microlight so is keen to do more flying.