Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) Chief Fire Officer has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.
Chief Fire Officer Charlie Hendry, who is currently on secondment as President of the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA), has been appointed as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to Local Government.
This award recognises the incredible amount of work Charlie has undertaken nationally advising on Fire and Rescue Service matters and for his service to the communities of Kent and Medway.
Charlie Hendry said: "It's a tremendous honour to be recognised in this way and I'm obviously delighted.
“I believe that this recognition is a reflection of the hard work and commitment of everyone who works for KFRS. Their dedication to providing the best possible service to the Kent and Medway communities has resulted in KFRS being rated as excellent by the Audit Commission. For me, it's a privilege to lead the best service in the UK.”
Charlie, 48, joined London Fire Brigade as a firefighter in 1983 where he spent 17 years. He attended a number of high-profile incidents including the fatal train crash at Wembley in 1984 and terrorist incident at Brent Cross Shopping Centre. In October 1999, he led Fire and Rescue Service operations at the Paddington rail disaster.
Charlie was instrumental in developing London’s response to the health and safety improvement notices and introduced competence-based training in leadership, management and training skills. He also oversaw the introduction of computer-based command training simulations and worked with colleagues at a national level to develop leadership and command training syllabuses at the Fire Service College. As Assistant Chief Fire Officer (Operations) he undertook and implemented a comprehensive review of London’s fire cover.
Charlie joined KFRS as Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 2000, spending six years in post before being promoted Chief Fire Officer, leading a number of high-profile incidents, including the response to an earthquake that hit Folkestone in 2007.
During his career in Kent, KFRS received Government recognition that it is a first class organisation. In 2005, a national assessment awarded KFRS its excellent status - one of only two from 46 fire and rescue services throughout the country to be given the prestigious rating.
This result came after KFRS was rigorously assessed by the Audit Commission. The process - called the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) - looked at what the organisation does well, where it could do better and how it plans to improve.
The report highlighted many areas which contributed towards the Service’s excellent rating. These include community fire safety work – leading to a 79 per cent reduction in the number of accidental fire related deaths and injuries over the last five years – an established education programme, effective partnership working, strong leadership and sound financial management.
In 2007, Kent was again given top marks in the Audit Commission’s Fire and Rescue Performance Assessment report for its financial accounting and judged as performing strongly overall in this area which included how well the Service plans and manages its finances and whether it achieves value for money for taxpayers.
Charlie has played a pivotal role in all of these achievements while also serving as a member of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority and Chairman of its rescue and safety group.
In 2008, Charlie was appointed President of CFOA, having previously worked as a member of numerous national committees. The position sees Charlie tackling issues affecting the fire and rescue service nationally and at government level. Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority (KMFRA) took the unprecedented step of approving Charlie’s full secondment to the year-long post.
Charlie added: “Much of the work we have done here has been used by other fire authorities as a best practice model. During my secondment, I’ve used the experience gained in Kent to ensure the United Kingdom is in the strongest position possible to provide an excellent fire service for many years to come.
“Recent years have seen many changes to the way the fire and rescue service - both nationally and locally in Kent - operates and we are now seeing the benefits of these changes, with continuing improvements in training, operations and community safety. All of which help us build an organisation that is future-proof and that continues to be excellent.”
Charlie’s CBE adds to Queen’s Fire Service Medal, which was awarded to him in 2004.
Charlie lives in Doddington with his wife Sandra. His interests include hill walking, both in the UK and Europe, reading, theatre, cinema and gardening. He is also involved with Fairbridge, a national charity with a centre in Kent that supports young people aged 13-25 to develop the confidence, motivation and skills they need to turn their lives around.