Confusion over fire chief job advert

SUFFOLK'S deputy chief fire officer Ken Seager today said he had made no decision over whether to retire this year.He issued a robust statement despite his position being advertised nationally on the chief fire officers' website, as a possible vacancy.

SUFFOLK'S deputy chief fire officer Ken Seager today said he had made no decision over whether to retire this year.

He issued a robust statement despite his position being advertised nationally on the chief fire officers' website, as a possible vacancy.

Mr Seager, who was at his desk at Suffolk Fire Service headquarters in Colchester Road, Ipswich, today said: "The chief fire officer is aware that under the provisions of the firemen's pension scheme that I am able to retire should I chose to do so later this year.

"However I have made no such decision as yet.

"This is a very personal matter for me and my family and I am not prepared to discuss it publicly until the time is right."

Mr Seager, who was given a national award for outstanding achievement in 1998, missed out on the top job of Suffolk's fire service last year.

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He had been one of the candidates to take over from former chief fire officer Malcolm Alcock who took early retirement last year.

However in November Suffolk fire authority opted for youth in choosing his successor, 35-year-old Lee Howell, for the post, which is believed to be worth £100,000 a year. The appointment made him the youngest chief fire officer in the country.

A spokesman for Suffolk fire and rescue service today said the advertisement was not intended to imply Mr Seager or another assistant chief fire officer, thought to be Graham Smith, had made any decisions about retiring.

He said: "We are running a professional assessment centre in March for candidates who are interested in applying for the current vacancy of assistant chief fire officer. We have two other senior officers who could retire in the next year, should they decide to exercise their option to do so, which would leave important vacancies in the service.

"We have decided to extend the scope of the recruitment exercise for the assistant chief fire officer to consider succession planning. The assessment centre will determine those who are technically competent to carry out the ACFO role and the potential of those who apply to carry out higher level duties such as DCFO, should a vacancy arise.

"Nothing else is intended or implied."

The spokesman added it should be made clear that a panel from Suffolk County Council would be the ones making a decision on any future recruitment at DCFO level. He said this would be done only if a vacancy had arisen and not before.

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