Service Leadership Team biographies

Stuart Errington

Stuart Errington, Chief Fire Officer 

Chief Fire Officer Stuart Errington joined what was County Durham Fire Brigade in January 1993 as a firefighter.  He has had a wide and varied operational career serving at a number of fire stations and in support departments across the Service. Stuart was appointed Chief Fire Officer, on an interim basis, in August 2015 becoming the first person in the Service’s history to progress internally from firefighter to chief officer. His appointment was made substantive on 21 March 2016. 

In 2006, Stuart spent two years seconded to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) as a Business Change Manager attached to the National Resilience Programme for Fire and Rescue Services. He became a Principal Officer (Assistant Chief Fire Officer) in 2009 and was promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 2012.  

Between 2011 and 2017 Stuart held the elected position of National Secretary of the Association of Principal Fire Officers (APFO). He sits on the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Performance Committee which has responsibility for ensuring the NFCC strategy is delivered. He represents the NFCC at the Inclusive Fire Services Group, leads on the national procurement work stream for fleet and Chairs the Draeger User Group. In July 2017 Stuart took over as Chair of the County Durham and Darlington Local Resilience Forum.

In order to drive income generation to help mitigate cuts to central government funding, Stuart established the Service’s Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2013 and chaired the board of directors until stepping down when he took over as Chief Fire Officer.  

Stuart has been a Graduate of the Institute of Fire Engineers since 1998, gained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Leicester in 2007 and a Master of Science (MSc) in Managing Organisational Performance from Cranfield University in 2011.  In January 2014 he successfully completed the Business Directors Programme with Cranfield University.

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Steve Helps

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 Master 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 teenage 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.
 
Most recently, he has acted as Assistant Chief Fire Officer and head of service delivery.
 
Steve enjoys outdoor pursuits including cycling, running and walking with his border terrier.

 

Sarah Nattrass

Sarah Nattrass, Assistant Chief Fire Officer 

Sarah joined County Durham Fire Brigade in 1994 serving as a retained firefighter at Stanhope fire station for two years before joining the wholetime service in 1996.  Sarah has served her wholetime career in Cumbria Fire Service and Cleveland Fire Brigade before returning to County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service in 2000.  

She has had a wide and varied career serving at a number of fire stations and within support departments across the service gaining a wide range of operational, managerial and leadership experience. Sarah specialised as the Quality Assurance Manager in Training, Risk Manager, Operations Delivery Manager, Head of Organisational Development and Head of Workforce Development.

Sarah was appointed as Assistant Chief Fire Officer on 14 February 2018 and is a member of the Service Leadership Team with strategic responsibility for the Service’s support functions which include, Training, Assets, Assurance and Workforce Development.

In 2016 Sarah gained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Teesside University.

Tony Hope

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.

 

Section Heads and Area Managers

Keith Wanley

Keith Wanley, AM Community Risk Management

Keith joined the Fire and Rescue Service in 1992 after serving for 5 years in HM Armed Forces with the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.  During his Fire Service career Keith has gained a broad range of operational, managerial and leadership experience at supervisory, middle and strategic level.  He has served operationally on several fire stations and in managerial posts as a District Manager, Operations Manager and as a Flexible Duty Officer, but has also specialised as the Training Manager, Community Safety Manager, Head of Organisational Development and Head of Operations Delivery.  In 2013 Keith graduated with distinction from Teesside University with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

Keith’s role in the Fire Service has required him to work closely with partner agencies such as the Police and Local Authorities, developing and delivering multi agency plans to reduce community risk and increase community safety. His current role as an area manager gives him strategic responsibility as a member of the Service Leadership Team and as Head of Community Risk Management he has responsibility for the Service’s community protection and prevention teams and information services.  These teams have responsibility for providing advice to and auditing businesses on fire safety and taking enforcement action under the fire safety legislation, they also provide community safety education to the public and analyse data and intelligence which helps the Service make best use of its resources.

Keith Carruthers

Keith Carruthers, AM Training, Assets and Assurance

Keith is currently Area Manager responsible for training, assets and assurance. He began his fire and rescue service career in Northumberland in 1996, transferring to Tyne and Wear in 2001 as a sub officer based at the training centre. 

He has had a wide and varied career serving in a number of roles gaining a wide range of operational, managerial and leadership experience. These have included prevention, arson reduction, learning and organisational development, district management, emergency response and resilience.

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

For the last year he has been 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

 

Steve Wharton, AM Emergency Response

Steve joined the fire and rescue service in 1988 and has had management experience at both smaller and larger fire stations before transferring into business fire safety and qualifying as a legislative inspecting officer. In this fire safety role he has specialised in projects and public entertainment as well as holding references for residential care premises. From there he transferred into the community safety section and was responsible for initiating innovative delivery methods as well as introducing the first cadet scheme into the service. Moving through his career he has served as part of the response district management team gaining valuable experience in problem solving and anti-social behaviour reduction as well as managing several stations.

Steve qualified with a foundation degree in fire scene management and has worked as a fire investigator within the service and been involved in some higher profile investigations presenting evidence at Coroners and Crown Court. Transitioning into more senior management roles, Steve has served in operational support roles as Group Manager overseeing large projects and introducing an operational assurance tool within the service and as operational response manager leading the running of all of our fire stations and command and control teams. He has also returned to manage the community and fire safety teams in a more recent role.

Steve is currently Area Manager responsible for training, assets and assurance and is presently studying with the University of Sunderland for a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

 

Robin Turnbull

Robin Turnbull, Temporary AM Community Risk Management

Robin Joined the Service in February 1990 and has carried out the roles of firefighter, crew and watch manager at Darlington, Newton Aycliffe and Consett before transferring to Service Headquarters in 2008. Following three years’ experience in the Risk section, Robin was appointed to the role of station manager for Sedgefield before being promoted to the role of group manager in 2013. 
Robin has previously had the responsibility for training, health and safety, risk and assurance before being temporarily promoted in 2019 to the role of area manager with the responsibility for community risk management, and he is currently in a project post. From 2017 to 2019, Robin was also the Service Liaison Officer with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. He has also had the operational Service references for National Inter Agency Liaison Officer and Wildfire tactical advisor roles. 
Robin is a member of the Local Resilience Forum Tactical Business Group and currently the Chair of the Risk Assessment Working Group. In 2016, Robin was awarded an MBA from Teesside University Business School.

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rob cherrie

Rob Cherrie, GM Training Manager and Temporary Head of Workforce Development

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. Recent examples include piloting and implementation of a multi award winning FF Apprenticeship scheme which was the first of its kind to be introduced nationally and transforming the way in which the Fire Service identifies and manages risk within the local communities including writing the Community Risk Profile and Integrated Risk Management Plan.

His current role as Workforce Development and Training Manager means he is responsible for the Human Resources, Organisational Development and Training functions. 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).

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. 

Katherine Metcalfe

Katherine Metcalfe, Head of People and Organisation Development

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 Head of Workforce Development, includes human resources, organisational development. health and wellbeing, workforce planning and most recently apprenticeships where the Service has been recognised externally for its innovative firefighter apprenticeship programme. She is also the chair of the Service Management Team (SMT) and the Corporate Wellbeing Group (CWB).

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).  Most recently, Katherine has completed a CIPD level 7 Diploma in Human Resource Management. 

 

Keith Lazzari

Keith Lazzari, Head 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 Head of Corporate Resources includes communications, governance, ICT infrastructure and support, 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.