One of Greater Manchester Fire Service’s most senior officers has been sacked

One of Greater Manchester’s most senior fire officers has been sacked. Assistant County Fire Officer, Dave Keelan, who earns £130,000 a year, was suspended by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service on November 22nd while an investigation took place following an “internal complaint”.

A full disciplinary hearing took place this week heard by the Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Ben Norman. Mr Keelan has the right to appeal and should he choose to do so that would be held in mid April before Chief Fire Officer Dave Russell.

The decision to proceed to a full disciplinary hearing followed an investigation by a senior officer from the Tyne and Weir Fire Service who was commissioned by GMFRS to carry out an inquiry. In a statement today a Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “GMFRS can confirm that following an investigation and disciplinary hearing, a senior member of staff has been dismissed from the organization with immediate effect. This decision is subject to a right of appeal and therefore it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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Based at fire service HQ in Pendlebury, Mr Keelan was until recently responsible for Operations. This includes being in charge of fire engines, kit, and operational policy and procedure including the service’s plans to deal with a terrorism attack, and multi-agency working at incident. His job is now called Director of Service Support but includes broadly the same responsibilities.

Assistant County Fire Officer, Dave Keelan, who has been suspended by GMFRS since November.

In December a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has suspended a senior member of staff following an internal complaint. A full investigation is currently underway – it would not be appropriate to disclose further details at this time.”

At his home in south Manchester, Mr Keelan, when asked last year if he would like to comment about his suspension, said: “Not at the moment”. His suspension of him came a week after a new report concluded Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service remains unprepared to respond effectively to a terrorist attack, four years after the Arena bombing.

The organization also needs to do more to protect the public, according to government inspectors. But the county’s fire chief and deputy mayor have hit back insisting the service does have the capability to respond to a terrorist strike.

Mr Keelan, according to the service’s website, has overall responsibility for operational activity, and is responsible for operational policy and training, operational support, resilience and contingency planning and operational assurance and performance. Since he joined GMFRS he has worked as Head of Prevention, Head of Operational Training, as a borough manager and led a team investigating the tragic death of firefighter Stephen Hunt at an operational incident in Oldham Street Manchester in July 2013.

He represents GMFRS on the Greater Manchester Resilience Forum, is the Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) North West Operations Resilience Committee and represents the North West on the National NFCC Operations Coordination Committee.

Dave Keelan, GMFRS’s assistant county fire officer, giving evidence at the Manchester Arena Inquiry.

In July last year he was the most senior GMFRS serving fire officer who gave evidence at the Manchester Arena Inquiry and apologized for the fire service’s ‘woeful and unacceptable response’ to the bombing on the night. He addressed bereaved families and all those who were injured and continue to be affected by the atrocity from the witness stand.

The fire service, he said emotionally, let down the public. “Personally, and on behalf of GMFRS, I apologize for our woeful and unacceptable response to that incident. We let you down when you needed us the most.”

Mr Keelan spoke of the structure – and stated purposes – of the fire service in Greater Manchester. One was ‘to save, protect and improve the lives of people in Greater Manchester’, the inquiry heard.

Mr Keelan agreed the fire service ‘absolutely did’ fail to fulfill that purpose on the night of May 22, 2017. But he went on to detail a raft of changes implemented by GMFRS after the atrocity – saying a single ‘tri-service’ control room – for police, the fire service and the ambulance service – instead of the current North West Fire Control in Warrington would be the ‘gold standard’ for Greater Manchester in the future.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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