The Isle of Wight’s new chief fire officer will be Steve Apter. Mr Apter will take up the top job in November more than 20 years after joining the Island’s fire and rescue service as a retained fire-fighter.
He is thought to be the only chief fire officer in the country to have worked his way up through a single organisation from a part time fire-fighting position to that of the most senior officer.
Steve, 44, who will be promoted from assistant chief officer, operations and resilience to move into the new role, takes over from current chief fire officer Paul Street who is to retire in November.
Welcoming the appointment Cllr Barry Abraham, IW Council cabinet member responsible for the service, said; “It speaks volumes for the dedication that exists throughout the Island’s fire service that Paul, who has spent his entire career in the service on the Island is to be replaced by someone who has also spent their whole career serving the Island’s community.
“I am delighted that we are able to appoint Paul’s successor from within our own ranks. Steve, like Paul, is a man who understands both the Island and the service. Both have worked hard to improve the service beyond all recognition in recent years and I am sure that this improvement will continue under Steve’s command.
Steve, who lives in Havenstreet with his wife Andrea and three young children, joined the IW fire and rescue service in 1990 as a retained fire-fighter at Shanklin. He was made full-time the following year and has undertaken various management roles within the service over the past 15 years.
“I believe passionately in the service and, having worked my way up through the ranks, I have a clear understanding of how it operates now and how it will need to operate in the future,“ Mr Apter said.
“My priority is to ensure the service builds on the improvements we have achieved in recent years. That means some changes to the way we operate but I am sure the decisions we are taking are absolutely in the best interest of the service and – more importantly – in the best interest of the residents we serve.
“I look forward to working with members, officers and all my fire-fighting colleagues to achieve this. The service is now more professional and more resilient than the one I joined and I am determined to play my full part in improving the service still further.
“The role of the service and indeed of the Chief Fire Officer has evolved enormously in recent years. In the coming years there will be an increasing emphasis on working with residents to help prevent accidents and fires before they happen. This is a part of the job I am particularly passionate about.”
Operationally, Mr Apter has commanded many large incidents including the service’s prolonged response to the big freeze at the end of last year.
Outside of work, he enjoys sport, particularly cricket, and music. He is also a governor at Binstead Primary.
Mr Apter will be supported by another long serving Island fire-fighter Stuart May who is being promoted from assistant chief fire officer, prevention and protection, to deputy chief fire officer.
Stuart Love, IW Council director of economy and the environment, said: “What is particularly pleasing for me is that the two most senior roles in the service are being performed by two hugely experienced fire-fighters who are local officers who have been instrumental in shaping and improving the service.”