This week, we say goodbye to Deputy Chief Fire Officer (DCFO) David Harding as he retires after nearly four decades in service.
David Harding will leave Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service on Sunday, May 13, as Deputy Chief Fire Officer, a position he rose to having initially joined as a retained firefighter.
38 year career
Throughout his 38 year career, DCFO Harding has taken on many different roles within the Fire Service.
As a cricket lover, who played for his local team in Long Buckby, DCFO Harding first heard about the retained Fire Service from his fellow players.
He joined Long Buckby as a retained firefighter in 1980, moving to Guilsborough Fire Station in 1982, which he ran for 10 years. A house move then led him to serving at Moulton Fire Station for a number of years.
In January 1994, he joined the service in a full time capacity in the Fire Control Room, deploying fire crews to incidents throughout the county. He moved on to manage the control room in 2001.
In 2003, he moved from the control room to take on a role implementing integrated risk management planning, later becoming Group Manager, Head of Planning and Performance, Area Manager, Head of Corporate Services and finally, in 2016, he was promoted to his current position.
DCFO Harding who, prior to 2001, also ran his own business as a restorer of fine art on paper, said: “My father was the Senior Conservator of Western Pictorial Art at the British Museum so that is where my initial vocational direction led, but through my involvement in the retained service, my interest in a fire service career developed and the rest is, as they say, history.
“It is hard to say how I will feel when I actually leave, as I’m still busily doing my job and so I am still adjusting to the thought of retirement. I imagine it will feel a bit strange at first.”
DCFO Harding recognises that the service has seen considerable changes since the 1980s.
Reflecting on his departure, he said: “There are lots of things I feel proud of about my time with the Fire Service. As in all things, in whatever role or sphere of the business I have worked in, my purpose has been to seek to make things better. From the early stages, and throughout my career it has been a privilege to work with dedicated people who are committed to making the communities of Northamptonshire safer. I feel lucky to have been able to have had such a fulfilling and rewarding career.
“Latterly, in the last 15 years, I have seen a huge amount of change in the service and it has been a pleasure to influence some of that change.
“Northamptonshire, like all other fire services, has grown from being a predominantly response-based service to a more holistic service that also recognises the value of activities to help prevent fire incidents from happening. Changing the purpose and the culture of the Fire Service is a gradual thing that all of us have played a part in and I have been fortunate enough to have been one of those leading that change.”
Will be sorely missed
Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey said: “DCFO David Harding will be sorely missed by us all. I have worked extremely closely with Dave over the last two years and have valued his expertise and commitment to both NFRS and the people of the county. While I will miss him on a personal level, I wish him all the very best as he looks to new challenges and takes a well-deserved opportunity to devote more time to his family and grandchildren.”
Until recruitment for the post of Deputy Chief Fire Officer is carried out, Shaun Hallam and Rob Porter will act as temporary Assistant Chief Fire Officers.