A CHIEF fire officer and area manager at Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have been recognised in the Queen’s 2021 New Year’s Honours.
Area manager Andy Cole and chief fire officer Ben Ansell have both been awarded a Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM).
Area manager Andy Cole has been recognised for his outstanding leadership and efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout 2020, Andy has taken a lead in the service’s response to the pandemic, ensuring the service supported the needs of partners, including South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust. He also helped to ensure that the service maintained its critical emergency response arrangements.
During this period, Andy also played a key role when commanding the Wareham Forest major incident fire, which was one of the largest wildfires since the huge fires of 1976.
The fire burned for more than eight weeks and Andy worked with partners and fire services from across the UK to deal with the incident, all while ensuring the 250 firefighters on scene, from every station in Dorset and Wiltshire, remained safe from coronavirus.
Andy joined the fire and rescue service in July 2004 as an on-call firefighter in Castle Cary, Somerset. He joined Dorset Fire and Rescue Service in January 2008 but remained on-call with Devon and Somerset until 2018.
He said: “I am so pleased to have been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen with a Queen’s Fire Service Medal.
“This year has been extremely difficult for so many people and organisations, and the fire service is no different. We have had to adapt and work in completely different ways to continue providing the public with the high standard of service they expect from us. This has involved innovative thinking from staff and managers and I am proud to lead and be involved with this excellent work.”
Chief fire officer Ben Ansell has been recognised for his distinguished service to outstanding leadership in the fire and rescue sector.
Ben was the fire strategic gold commander during the Salisbury and Amesbury Novichok incidents and led the service response to these incidents.
Ben undertakes national work in the fire sector as a member of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee, advising the Secretary of State in England on making building regulations and setting standards for the design and construction of buildings.
He is an advisor to the national fire and rescue employers, who determine the working arrangements for firefighters across the UK. He is also the service champion for the Fire Fighters Charity and regional coordinator for the South West.
Ben joined Dorset Fire Brigade in September 1994. In 2006 he worked for Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate. On his return, he led on key aspects of the planning for the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth. When Dorset and Wiltshire combined in 2016, he was director of operations for the new service and became chief fire officer on December 1, 2016.
He said: “I am honoured and delighted to have been recognised with a Queen’s Fire Service Medal.
“I am proud to lead Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. This honour is truly a testament to the professionalism and dedication of all staff from across the service that enables us to achieve all that we do.
“I would like to thank my colleagues, family and friends for their support during my career.”
Another Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service staff member was also recognised in the honour’s list. Watch Manager Chris Martin from Ramsbury Fire Station in Wiltshire received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to his local community.
Cllr Rebecca Knox, chairman of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “It is a real honour and excellent news to have three members of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service staff recognised by Her Majesty the Queen. I send my warmest congratulations to all three of them.”