Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sparks Fly over New Fire Chief

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sparks Fly over New Fire Chief

Article excerpt

Byline: By Owen McAteer

Fuming fire union chiefs hit out today at the appointment of a businesswoman as head of their brigade.

As reported in last night's Chronicle, Susan Johnson is the first woman head of a fire brigade in the country.

Ms Johnson, 48, who comes from a business background, said despite not having a firefighting background, she is the right person to do the job with her management skills.

The mother-of-two from Sunderland believes Durham's firefighters will show their professionalism in supporting her.

But while the Chief Fire Officer's Association has welcomed her appointment the Fire Brigades Union described it as "a kick in the teeth" to woman firefighters who have worked their way up through the service.

In an interview with the Chronicle, Ms Johnson said: "I think that the fire service is characterised as being extremely professional and I hope that is how they will receive me. I do have a lot of professional experience in running big teams and managing significant budgets. My appointment has been described as trail-blazing and I am really quite proud of that fact.

"I think, at the end of the day my appointment will be judged on whether I can do the job effectively, regardless of my sex.

"I think a lot of the experience I have had throughout my career will serve me well for running such and important and essential service for the community.

"I do believe that is the direction in public services that we are going on, for example you don't have to be a brain surgeon to run a hospital."

Ms Johnson believed the support of senior officers, including would prove invaluable to her.

She added: "I am very excited about it and am grateful to the fire authority for having the confidence to put a non-uniformed and a female into this post. …

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