Spotlight on…

Louise Taylor, Solicitor and Monitoring Office for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service

In each edition of ConsortEM, we shine a light on a member to show the variety of roles within the consortium.

How long have you been with the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service?

I have been with the service for six years. What does your role entail?

My role involves an interesting variety of work, including monitoring for purposes of governance and assurance, negotiating on legal and commercial matters, and providing advice, assistance and guidance to staff and councillors. I work across all areas of the organisation on a range of legal and business issues, and where needed I instruct and manage external support specialists who have been drafted in to help deal with specific matters. I get a lot of job satisfaction from being able to help find solutions to tricky problems.

To whom do you report? What is the structure of your team?

I report directly to our Chief Fire Officer and the Chair of the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Authority (a Combined Fire Authority formed from councillors from Derbyshire County Council and Derby City Council). I am a member of the service’s strategic leadership team which includes our Chief Fire Officer, our Deputy Chief Fire Officer, the Director of Finance and the Service’s Treasurer, and five area managers. Collectively we manage the portfolios for response, community safety, operational training, people and organisational development, and corporate services.

What are the most pressing issues for you at the moment?

Like other local authorities, we are facing further budget cuts and therefore continue to look at different ways of working. Having moved to new joint police and fire headquarters in Ripley a year ago, we were collaborating with Derbyshire Constabulary and other organisations before the duty to collaborate was introduced in the Policing and Crime Act 2017. We are currently collaborating on a number of projects, but we continue to look for new opportunities.

What regulatory issues are on the horizon?

The tragic events at Grenfell Tower have raised the profile of building safety. It is hoped that an independent review of building regulations and fire precautions, set up in the aftermath of the disaster, will lead to the development and implementation of a more robust regulatory system which ensures all buildings are safe and remain so for the duration of their use.

How does Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service compare with other places you have worked?

Working for the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service compares very favourably to other places I have worked, both within the private sector and the public sector. The people I work with are incredibly talented and supportive, and show great commitment to achieving sustained service improvement.

What law would you like to see changed?

I would like to see changes made to the building regulations. For several years Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service has been at the forefront of promoting a better understanding of the benefits of domestic sprinklers as part of a core commitment to reducing the impact of fire on people, property and the environment in Derbyshire. Sprinklers have been successfully used for the protection of commercial properties and there is now a growing appreciation of their potential to save lives in domestic properties as well.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Advice is just that, advice. Everything should be considered and questioned.

Finally, two truths and one lie in any order.

The Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service works in partnership with each local authority and housing association within Derbyshire to match-fund up to £20,000 for the retrofitting of domestic sprinklers in properties occupied by vulnerable persons considered to be at risk from fire.

In the service we have a fire investigation dog called ‘Sparky’.

I ride a motorbike.

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