South Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer has been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal- the highest award of its kind a serving officer can receive.
James Courtney was named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List as one of just a handful of recipients of the medal, which was introduced in May 1954 and is given for meritorious service or bravery.
James joined Merseyside Fire & Rescue in 1990, moving up through the ranks to the position of Group Manager. He served with Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate working with Integrated Risk Management Planning from November 2005 through to November 2006, when he left to join South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.
James was promoted from Assistant Chief Fire Officer to Deputy Chief Fire Officer, before being appointed Interim CFO in April 2011. He was appointed Chief Fire Officer on a permanent basis in February 2012.
Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said: “I am delighted to receive this award. It is huge honour and a real surprise. I feel extremely lucky to have enjoyed such a long and successful career in the fire and rescue service- an organisation which does so much good work in our communities. I am particularly proud to serve as Chief Fire Officer in South Yorkshire and to contribute to National Resilience arrangements”.
Fire Authority Chair Cllr Linda Burgess, said: “James has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the fire and rescue service and I know all members of the fire authority will join me in congratulating him on this significant achievement.”
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said: “I would like to thank Chief Fire Officer James Courtney for his dedication and commitment to the fire service, which has seen him lead South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service through unprecedented periods of change. The Queen’s Fire Service Medal is a symbol of distinguished service and James should be proud of the difference he has made to both the fire service and helping vulnerable people in South Yorkshire.”
James is currently Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council National Operational Effectiveness Working Group, placing him at the forefront of efforts to promote and lead the highest standards of operational standards in fire and rescue services.
This role also saw him play a major part in developing a groundbreaking piece of research which looked into Incident Commanders and decision making on the incident ground.
His national strategic role makes him a key player in the English fire service’s response to and recovery from civil emergencies. This is something he replicates at a local level, as chair of the South Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum.