South Wales Fire and Rescue Service appoint new Chief Fire Officer after bullying allegations

Air Vice-Marshal Dr Fin Monahan has been appointed as the new Chief Fire Officer at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Credit: SWFRS

South Wales Fire and Rescue have appointed a new Chief Fire Officer.

It comes after an exclusive ITV Wales investigation revealed that the current interim chief brought in to head up the troubled South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is himself at the centre of bullying allegations.

Stuart Millington, who was an assistant chief fire officer in north Wales, faced an employment tribunal in May related to his time in north Wales.

He was accused of bullying and harassing a colleague, allegations which he denies.

Air Vice-Marshal Fin Monahan OBE DFC PhD will assume the role from Mr Millington and comes from a career as a fast jet pilot and senior leader in the Royal Air Force and MOD.

Over the last four months, ITV Cymru Wales has been investigating claims of "toxic cultures" at the services in north Wales, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

More than 35 whistleblowers in north Wales told us when they complained, nothing was done.

Air Vice-Marshal Monahan will take up the role of Chief Fire Officer once all the necessary background and security checks have been completed.

In the meantime, Stuart Millington will continue as interim Chief Fire Officer.

When asked whether Stuart Millington will return to his position at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service once he has completed the handover with the new CFO, a representative said: "The position is currently filled by a temporary internal appointment which will continue during his secondment".

Responding to the appointment a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We look forward to working with Air Vice Marshal Monahan.

“We would like to thank the Commissioners for their open and inclusive recruitment process which involved staff and other stakeholders."

Joel James, Shadow Minister for Social Partnership, said: “I’d like to welcome the new Chief Fire Officer to his role. I know I will be joined by residents across South Wales in wishing him well, but there is no doubt that there is a mountain to climb to restore confidence in South Wales Fire.

“As the hard work begins, he will have our support in taking the force forward after a stalled start by the Welsh Government’s Commission.”

Mr Monahan has completed many operational tours overseas, and has led the RAF’s support to civilian authorities for the North of England, Southern Scotland and the Isle of Man including maintaining a 24/7 rapid response team and Mountain Rescue coverage.

In a statement, Commissioner Carl Foulkes, chair of the appointment panel, explained they had broadened out the recruitment process, extending the search outside the fire and rescue sector.

The new leader is expected to "guide the Service through the cultural and organisational changes it faces".

He said: “All five short-listed candidates demonstrated excellent skills and experience that met our demanding person specification, and a commitment to creating the right environment for our people, the Service, and the communities we serve.

“At the end of five days of exercises, panels, and interviews, Fin Monahan stood out as the best and right person for the role, and we are delighted that he has accepted the invitation the join and lead the Service."

Air Vice-Marshal Fin Monahan will assume the role from a career as a fast jet pilot and senior leader in the Royal Air Force and MOD. Credit: SWFRS

While not a firefighter, Mr Monahan previously had a fire station under his command and underwent basic firefighting and breathing apparatus training. He is currently the Director of ‘Defence Futures’, the MOD’s think tank at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham.

Commenting on his appointment, Air Vice-Marshal Fin Monahan said: “I am honoured to be entrusted with this important role, and I’m grateful to the staff, unions, stakeholders, and Commissioners for their confidence in me.

“I look forward to joining the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service team. I would like every staff member, regardless of their role or location, to feel proud of their work, and to join me and the leadership team to rebuild the Service into an organisation where everyone feels welcome, supported, and safe.

"That will help us build the cohesion and mutual support needed to fulfil our mission of keeping the 1.5 million citizens of South Wales safe.”

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