Devon and Somerset fire authority has appointed a permanent chief fire officer for the regions.

The decision was made at a Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority meeting on June 10, 2024, where Gavin Ellis was selected to take over the role permanently after serving as interim chief fire officer since May 2023.

He will replace Lee Howell, who is retiring in September.

Cllr Simon Coles was elected as the new chair of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority at the same meeting.

Mr Ellis joined Northamptonshire Fire Service, at age 19, before transferring to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in 2010 as station manager.

Over his time here, he has held a range of roles as he climbed the ranks, from group manager to chief of staff at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Mr Ellis has overseen the service's response to a variety of incidents, including the Royal Clarence Hotel fire in Exeter in 2016.

He returned to Devon and Somerset in January 2020 as area manager of Service Delivery and later assistant chief fire officer, he has shown dedication to improving his community's safety.

With this new leadership, the Fire and Rescue service hopes to uphold its duty of keeping the public safe despite ongoing financial constraints.

Cllr Coles said: "I am delighted to confirm Gavin as the permanent chief fire officer after a rigorous and competitive selection process.

"He brings significant experience and has proven himself to be a strong strategic leader.

"I look forward to working closely with him as we strive to make people living in or visiting our counties even safer.

“On behalf of the Fire Authority, I want to say thank you to Lee Howell who leaves an enormous legacy in the 16 years he has been chief fire officer.”

Mr Ellis said: “It has been the privilege of my career to lead the service over the last twelve months on a temporary basis, to have been appointed permanently and to be able to continue this is truly fantastic.

“I am proud of the Service, the people who work within it and what we stand for in delivering our services to communities and partners.

“I will continue to work hard to provide the best service to those who live and work in Devon and Somerset or visit our two beautiful counties.”