Service Leadership Team Biographies

Steve Helps, Chief Fire Officer

Steve Helps Deputy Chief Fire Officer

Steve joined CDDFRS on 1 June 2020 as Deputy Chief Fire Officer.  He is an experienced fire officer and leader, having originally joined Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service in 1992 as an on-call firefighter. He then moved to Leicestershire FRS in 1994, before returning to Derbyshire FRS in 1998 where he undertook roles as station command, head of training, head of prevention and inclusion and as an inspecting officer.

Steve has a Masters degree in Business from Lincoln University, along with a BSc Hons Degree from the University of Central Lancaster. Steve has completed the Executive Leadership Program and is an active member of the Institute of Fire Engineers.

The married father of two sons joined South Yorkshire FRS in 2014 as head of emergency response. He went on to lead the service’s community and business fire safety teams and spearheaded the creation of a joint community safety team with South Yorkshire Police. He also acted as Assistant Chief Fire Officer and head of service delivery.
Steve enjoys outdoor pursuits including cycling, running and walking with his border terrier.

Keith Carruthers, Deputy Chief Fire Officer

Keith Carruthers Director of Community Risk Management

Keith began his fire and rescue service career in Northumberland in 1996, transferring to Tyne and Wear in 2001 and to County Durham and Darlington in 2019.

He has had a wide and varied career serving in a number of roles gaining a wide range of operational, managerial and leadership experience. He has managed prevention, arson reduction, learning and organisational development, district management, emergency response and resilience, health and safety, business continuity and organisational assurance.

He has contributed to the development of strategy, organisational reviews, operational policy and procedures, and coordination of large multi-agency training exercises.

He was seconded to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services as a Service Liaison Lead. In this role Keith led inspections of Fire and Rescue Services, on behalf of the public, assessing and reporting on the services’ efficiency, effectiveness and leadership.

He is a Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers, holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies and a BSC Honours in Mathematics. He is married with two grown up children

Tony Hope, Deputy Chief Executive

Tony Hope Deputy Chief Executive

Tony holds the position of Deputy Chief Executive and he also holds the statutory position of Treasurer (Section 151 Officer) to the Fire and Rescue Authority. Tony’s role and responsibilities are extensive and integral to the strategic management of the organisation as a whole. He is the key advisor to the Fire and Rescue Authority on all financial matters and his Service responsibilities include strategic and transactional finance, estates, facilities management, ICT, procurement, corporate communications and governance. Tony is also a Director and Company Secretary of the Authority’s trading arms, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue CIC and Vital Fire Solutions which were formed to enable trading with the private sector.

Tony is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)  and his background is in local government having previously worked for Durham County Council and North Tyneside Council before joining County Durham and Darlington Fire Service as Head of Finance in 2011. He has over thirty years of experience working with the fire and rescue service in a finance capacity.


Rob Cherrie, Director of Emergency Response

Rob joined Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service in 2001, before transferring to County Durham and Darlington in 2010. Having spent ten years as an operational fire-fighter, Rob progressed into management, both on fire stations and within headquarters-based functions. Since this point he has worked in numerous roles across the Service including leading on a number of high-profile change projects that have shaped the future direction of the Service. Examples include implementation of a multi award winning FF Apprenticeship scheme which was the first of its kind to be introduced nationally, Safer Homes Project, Safe and Wellbeing Visits and Productivity & Efficiency.

Rob was also instrumental in producing CDDFRS’ first written Community Risk Profile as well as modernising the Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP).

His current role as Director of Emergency Response means he has overall responsibility for our Stations and Crews; Resilience Planning; Flexible Duty Officers; Control; the Local Resilience Forum; and Business Continuity. Rob is also a member of the Service Leadership Team assisting in setting the strategic direction of the Service. He has a wealth of experience in teaching, mentoring and leadership, with qualifications in each of these fields, including his Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Executive Leadership Programme (ELP).

Rob’s leadership style is to help staff build resilience and encourage self-reflection during times of significant change. His honest and up-front approach encourages individuals to overcome personal challenges, obstacles and distractions as well as focusing on influences they have experienced throughout their own journey to positively impact the way in which they perform at work.


Ben Cairns, Director of Community Risk Management

Ben started his fire service career in 1996 with North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, transferring to Royal Berkshire as Area Manager for Response and Resilience in 2023 before moving to County Durham and Darlington in 2024.

He has a had varied career across several disciplines accruing a breadth of managerial and leadership experience and knowledge. He has led service delivery, transport and logistics, emergency response, resilience and business continuity and transformational change.

He was the head of transformation and led the CRMP process, leading a range of transformational change programmes across the service.

He has spent time seconded to the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum to coordinate the response to COVID19 and trained as an inspection officer for His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. 

He is a member of the Chartered Management Institute and is married with twin teenage boys.

Katherine Metcalfe, Director of People and Organisational Development

Katherine Metcalfe Director of People and Organisational Management

Katherine joined the Service as a Human Resources Officer in 2007. She started her career in manufacturing as part of her degree programme, moving to retail, the NHS and then the charity sector working in various human resources roles gaining a broad range of experience. 

Katherine’s portfolio as Director of People and Organisational Development, includes human resources, organisational development, health and wellbeing, communications, governance, project assurance and workforce planning. She also manages apprenticeships where the Service has been recognised externally for its innovative firefighter apprenticeship programme.

Katherine graduated from University of Sunderland in 2005 with a BA (hons) in Human Resource Management and is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) and holds a CIPD level 7 Diploma in Human Resource Management. 

Keith Lazzari, Director of Corporate Resources

Keith Lazzari Director of Corporate Resources

Keith joined the service in 2006 after an earlier career in ICT followed by 17 years working in senior manufacturing management with Nestlé and latterly as a manufacturing improvement consultant with Young’s Bluecrest Seafood in Humberside.  Being a trained lean practitioner and with a track record of delivering efficiency and performance improvement, Keith initially joined the service to develop early performance management initiatives and established the service’s Business Improvement Team during the early years of service transformation.

Keith’s portfolio as Director of Corporate Resources includes ICT infrastructure and support, information services, financial services and estates and facilities management.  Keith is also the service lead for engagement with the Home Office in connection with the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme.

Keith holds a degree in Business Management and completed a degree in Leadership and Performance Coaching in 2009, both with the University of Northumbria.  More recently, Keith successfully completed the Executive Leadership Programme in 2017 delivered by Warwick University.