Leading fire officer set to hand up his boots

The leader of West Midlands Fire Service has announced he is to retire at the start of next year.

Phil Loach will step down as Chief Fire Officer of West Midlands Fire Service in January
Phil Loach will step down as Chief Fire Officer of West Midlands Fire Service in January

Phil Loach will step down as head of the country’s second largest fire and rescue service in January, with an interim Chief Fire Officer to take charge until his successor is appointed.

Born and raised in the Black Country, he joined WMFS in January 1994 as a recruit firefighter, having previously worked in both the private and public sectors.

He served as a firefighter across Birmingham and the Black Country, and went on to take up roles including Operations Commander for Birmingham, Head of Emergency Response, Assistant Chief Fire Officer (Operations) and Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

He was appointed Chief Fire Officer in October 2013.

In 2017, Mr Loach was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal for his distinguished service and commitment to making the West Midlands conurbation a safer place in which to live and work.

He has driven a wide-ranging transformation of the service and championed WMFS’s highly-regarded contribution to the community safety agenda.

In 2019, the service was the first and only to be graded ‘outstanding’ for 999 emergency response by the sector’s national inspectorate.

He said: “It has been a great privilege to have served as Chief Fire Officer for the people of the West Midlands.

"Whilst the decision to retire was a difficult one, I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter in my life and to more precious time with my family.

“I would like to thank the entire staff of West Midlands Fire Service.

"Their collective strength, will and determination to succeed has made the West Midlands a truly safer place, whilst also making this service a great place to work.

“I will look back with immense pride on the achievements of so many colleagues, not least their remarkable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In incredibly challenging times, they remained ready, willing and able to keep delivering our core services and much more besides for the most vulnerable in our communities.”

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