Area manager Andy Cole and chief fire officer Ben Ansell have both been recognised with a Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM). and watch manager, Chris Martin from Ramsbury Fire Station has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the local community.
Andy Cole has been recognised for his outstanding leadership and efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout 2020, he has taken a lead in the service’s response to the pandemic. 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 over 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.
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.”
Ben Ansell has been recognised for his distinguished service to and 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 Buildings 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.
He said, “I am honoured and delighted to have been recognised with a Queen’s Fire Service Medal. I am proud to lead Dorset & 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.”
Chris Martin has served the village of Ramsbury, Wiltshire as an on-call firefighter for over 40 years joining the Wiltshire Fire Brigade in October 1979. The fire station has seen many of Chris’ family as staff members over the years and at one stage, Chris’ sons Adam and Jeremy were both part of the team. Chris has worked tirelessly to ensure the fire engine remains available to attend incidents, as well as training and developing new firefighters. Key to this was the effective recruitment and retention of on-call firefighters including his recruitment of one of the first female firefighters into the then Wiltshire Fire Brigade in 1992. During a meeting with HRH The Prince of Wales in 2017, the Prince praised Chris’ incredible selfless devotion, commitment and loyalty to the fire service and the people of Ramsbury.
“I am thrilled to have been nominated and receive such an honour in Her Majesty The Queen’s New Year Honours List,” said Chris Martin. “I would like to say a big thank you to my family and all those who have supported me over the last 40 years. I would also like to thank all the firefighters I have worked with, who have made my time in the fire service most enjoyable. I am also extremely grateful to my customers in my main decorating business who have been very understanding when I have often left their houses mid job when my alerter goes off, sometimes for several hours. Being an on-call firefighter is a commitment not only from me but my family as well and they continue to support me. I am always pleased to be able to help and support my local community in any way I can and to receive this medal in return is a true honour.”
Chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Rebecca Knox, said, “It is a real honour and excellent news to have three members of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service staff recognised by Her Majesty The Queen. I send my warmest congratulations to all three of them.”
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