Date: 31st December, 2020
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is celebrating with three members of staff today (31 December) who have been recognised in the 2021 New Year Honours List. Watch Manager Chris Martin from Ramsbury Fire Station has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the local community. Area Manager Andy Cole and Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell have both been recognised with a Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM).
Watch Manager Chris Martin from Ramsbury Fire Station has been recognised with a BEM for services to his local community. Watch Manager Martin has served the village of Ramsbury, Wiltshire as an on-call firefighter for over 40 years. The fire station in Ramsbury Fire Station has seen many of Chris’ family as staff members over the years and at one stage, Chris’ sons were both part of the team. Adam joined the Service in 1998 and Jeremy in 2003. Chris has worked tirelessly to ensure the fire engine remains available to attend incidents, as well as training and developing new firefighters. Key to this was the effective recruitment and retention of on-call firefighters including his recruitment of one of the first female firefighters into the then Wiltshire Fire Brigade in 1992. During a meeting with HRH The Prince of Wales in 2017, the Prince praised Chris’ incredible selfless devotion, commitment and loyalty to the fire service and the people of Ramsbury.
Area Manager Andy Cole has been recognised for his outstanding leadership and efforts during the Coronavirus pandemic. Throughout 2020, Andy has taken a lead in the Service’s response to the pandemic, ensuring the Service supported the needs of partners, including South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust. He also helped to ensure that the Service maintained its critical emergency response arrangements. During this period, Andy also played a key role when commanding the Wareham Forest major incident fire, which was one of the largest wildfires since the huge fires of 1976. The fire burned for over eight weeks and Andy worked with partners and fire services from across the UK to deal with the incident, all while ensuring the 250 firefighters on scene, from every station in Dorset and Wiltshire, remained safe from Coronavirus.
Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell has been recognised for his distinguished service to and outstanding leadership in the fire and rescue sector. Ben was the fire strategic gold commander during the Salisbury and Amesbury Novichok incidents and led the Service response to these incidents. Ben undertakes national work in the fire sector, as a member of the Buildings Regulations Advisory Committee, advising the Secretary of State in England on making building regulations and setting standards for the design and construction of buildings. He is an advisor to the national fire and rescue employers, who determine the working arrangements for firefighters across the UK. He is also the Service champion for the Fire Fighters Charity and Regional Coordinator for the South West.
Watch Manager Chris Martin said: “I am thrilled to have been nominated and receive such an honour in Her Majesty The Queen’s New Year Honours List. I would like to say a big thank you to my family and all those who have supported me over the last 40 years. I would also like to thank all the firefighters I have worked with, who have made my time in the fire service most enjoyable. I am also extremely grateful to my customers in my main decorating business who have been very understanding when I have often left their houses mid job when my alerter goes off, sometimes for several hours. Being an on-call firefighter is a commitment not only from me but my family as well and they continue to support me. I am always pleased to be able to help and support my local community in any way I can and to receive this medal in return is a true honour.”
Area Manager Andy Cole said: “I am so pleased to have been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen with a Queen’s Fire Service Medal. This year has been extremely difficult for so many people and organisations, and the fire service is no different. We have had to adapt and work in completely different ways to continue providing the public with the high standard of service they expect from us. This has involved innovative thinking from staff and managers, and I am proud to lead and be involved with this excellent work.”
Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “I am honoured and delighted to have been recognised with a Queen’s Fire Service Medal. I am proud to lead Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. This honour is truly a testament to the professionalism and dedication of all staff from across the Service that enables us to achieve all that we do. I would like to thank my colleagues, family and friends for their support during my career.”
Chair of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Rebecca Knox, said: “It is a real honour and excellent news to have three members of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service staff recognised by Her Majesty The Queen. I send my warmest congratulations to all three of them.”
Watch Manager Chris Martin has served the community of Ramsbury and surrounding area for over 40 years, joining Wiltshire Fire Brigade in October 1979. Area Manager Andy Cole joined the fire and rescue service in July 2004 as an on-call firefighter in Castle Cary, Somerset. He joined Dorset Fire and Rescue Service in January 2008 but remained on-call with Devon and Somerset until 2018. Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell joined Dorset Fire Brigade in September 1994. In 2006, he worked for Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate. On his return, he led on key aspects of the planning for the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth. When Dorset and Wiltshire combined in 2016, he was Director of Operations for the new Service and became Chief Fire Officer on 1 December 2016.
Watch Manager Chris Martin BEM
Chris joined the then Wiltshire Fire Brigade in 1979, working his way up from Firefighter to Officer-in-charge at Ramsbury Fire Station in 1990. He leads a team of nine firefighters at Ramsbury and attends weekly drill nights, community events and supports firefighters through training and development as well as attending incidents.
In his spare time, Chris enjoys taking his caravan to the New Forest. He also enjoys cycling and walking with his wife Linda. During the summer months Chris plays lawn bowls in Ramsbury, where he can often stay on-call whilst playing.
Area Manager Andy Cole QFSM
Andy joined the then Dorset Fire and Rescue Service in 2008, serving as an operational firefighter in the Bournemouth and Poole area for a number of years and also working at West Moors training centre.
Following promotion to Station Manager, Andy has worked in various roles supporting local stations in the Dorset area. He was promoted to Group Manager in 2018 where he took charge of Group 2 (Wiltshire) overseeing all Wiltshire fire stations and supporting them in recruitment, development, training and response.
In 2019, Andy was promoted to Area Manager. He is now responsible for response support, response development, resourcing and review. In this role, Andy leads teams developing and improving the Service in a range of areas including fire control, operational procedural and guidance development, operational resourcing and the management of operational risk information and collaboration.
In his spare time, Andy enjoys cycling, watching rugby and spending time with his wife and three children.
Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell QFSM
Ben joined the then Dorset Fire Brigade in 1994, serving as an operational firefighter in the Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole area for a number of years and also working at West Moors training centre.
Following promotion to Station Manager in 2002, he worked in operational planning, audit & review, response policy and area command teams. During 2006, Ben was seconded to Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate as an Area Manager. There he led a team into seven fire and rescue authorities, as part of the Operational Assessment of Service Delivery inspection programme.
On his return to Dorset, he led on key aspects of the Service’s planning for the 2012 Olympics, becoming an Area Commander in 2009. He was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2012, with responsibility for prevention, protection and emergency response.
In April 2016, Ben became Assistant Chief Fire Officer of the newly combined Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Director of Operations for the new organisation. In December of that year, he became Chief Fire Officer.
In his spare time, Ben enjoys road cycling, playing, coaching, and refereeing football, paddle boarding and spending time with his family.