Ten-day Northamptonshire fire chief quits commissioner's office after 'friendship' controversy

Nicci Marzec has stepped down as Northamptonshire's chief fire officer following speculation about her friendship with police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold. Credit: Northamptonshire PFCC.
Nicci Marzec and Stephen Mold have come in for criticism over the nature of her appointment. Credit: Northamptonshire PFCC.

A fire chief who quit after 10 days over her friendship with the commissioner who gave her the job has now stepped down from her role in his office.

Nicci Marzec became interim chief fire officer on 7 July but resigned on 17 July after questions were raised about how quickly she had been appointed, and the fact she had no frontline firefighting experience.

Police, fire and crime commissioner (PFCC) Stephen Mold said their friendship had "become the story" but later claimed she had been “bullied out” of her role, as unions called for his resignation too.

Ms Marzec, who returned to her job as Mr Mold’s director of early intervention and head of paid service after her stint as fire chief, has made no public comment.

A spokesperson for Mr Mold's office said: “We can confirm that Nicci Marzec has resigned with immediate effect.”

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which was opposed to Ms Marzec leading the fire service because she has no operational firefighting experience, called on the Home Office to act after this month’s “chaotic and embarrassing” events.

The FBU’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, wrote to fire minister Chris Philp asking him if the government would intervene.

Mr Wrack wrote: “These events have created considerable disquiet among employees of the fire and rescue service, considerable media interest and something of a local scandal.

“They do not reflect well on [Mr Mold] and his decision making nor the systems of scrutiny in place under the [police, fire and crime commissioner] model.

“The situation is obviously chaotic and embarrassing. I would like to know whether you intend to do anything to address this mess, which has brought shame and embarrassment to the wider fire and rescue service.”

The Home Office has been approached to comment.

In comments to the BBC on Friday, Mr Mold admitted that he and Ms Marzec went to the same gym and that he had slept over at her home.

He had earlier said he was "absolutely sorry" for what had happened but claimed his colleague had been "bullied out" of leading the fire service.

Ms Marzec’s replacement, Simon Tuhill, is set to be confirmed by a panel of councillors and members of the public on Thursday.

The Northamptonshire police, fire and crime panel will rubber-stamp Mr Tuhill as the county’s interim chief fire officer, with applications for a permanent leader set to open next month.

The county’s last permanent chief fire officer, Mark Jones, left on 7 July, having started a three-year contract last October.

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