Fire executive Dan Stephens at Bridle Road fire service hq.
DAN STEPHENS hopes the years he spent in the Armed Forces will help him in his latest battle to protect Merseyside Fire Service from multi-million pound funding cuts.
The 44-year-old is calling on the guile, resilience and discipline instilled from serving in the elite Paras as he fights cuts which could equate to £17m – more than a quarter of the authority’s already-skeletal budget.
The worst-case scenario could see 300 firefighter jobs culled, 10 stations closed and 20 fire engines shunted off-duty.
“I spent five years in the Paras after the Falklands war and left with an exemplary record before joining the fire service,” Mr Stephens said.
“I was with the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment and it was as intense as you could imagine.
“Being a 16-stone, ex-Para is not the typical look for a chief executive or chief fire officer and it is something I have been stereotyped by professionally
“But serving in the Army after the Falklands formed a lot of the values I have now – that of hard work ethic, determination and resilience.
“Now I can draw on my experiences in the Army in the knowledge that as hard as life gets, it is never likely to get that hard.”
Merseyside Fire Service has already struggled to cope with double the cuts inflicted on other forces, with 90 firefighter posts culled along with 80 support staff.
And the prospect of more cuts this week led the Post’s sister paper, the Liverpool Echo, to launch a campaign calling on ministers not to unfairly target Merseyside Fire Service.
At his fire service HQ office in Bootle, Mr Stephens explained how he has spent months lobbying government ministers – and put his own job on the line by speaking out for Merseyside.
He said: “You do not have to be chief fire officer to work out what happens when you cut funding.
“It means station closures, job losses and an impact on our service which could put lives at risk.
“I live and breathe Merseyside and I am so proud of this fire service. I will speak up as loud as I can.
“It may even cost me my own job and I am acutely aware of that.
“That my children (Dan, 14, Rebecca, 12, Abby, eight, Joseph, six) are young and I am a long way from my pension is not lost on me.
“But I have a job to do. It is up to me to do the absolute best I can to make sure we maintain the best quality service we can.”
Following his five years with the Paras, Mr Stephens fell into the fire service in 1990 almost by chance.
After spending eight years at Kirkby blue watch, he worked in Wirral before being promoted to area manager, performance director, safety director and then as assistant chief officer under the former chief fire officer Tony McGuirk.