Sadness at death of Bedfordshire's chief fire officer
Tributes have been paid after the death of Bedfordshire's chief fire officer Paul Fuller CBE.
Mr Fuller, 61, joined Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service as chief fire officer in 2002, having worked as a firefighter since 1978.
A spokesman from the service said he died in the early hours of this morning after a short illness, with his family by his side.
Luton South MP Rachel Hopkins tweeted: "I'm very sad to hear the news of Paul’s death. My thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and Beds Fire and Rescue colleagues at this difficult time."
Helen Nellis, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, said: "A valued member of the Bedfordshire community, Paul was a fantastic leader and a wonderful friend and colleague.
"He touched the lives of all who knew him. Our thoughts are with his family and Beds Fire and Rescue officers."
Former police and fire service inspector for Bedfordshire, Zoe Billingham, added: "Utterly heartbreaking. Paul was a fine man determined to serve the public right until the very end.
"I admire him for all he has done for the fire service locally and nationally. All my thoughts are with his family and colleagues at these saddest of times."
Born in St Albans, Hertfordshire in 1960, Mr Fuller joined Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service as chief fire officer on February 18, 2002.
Since joining the fire service in 1978, his career path had taken him to West Midlands, West Sussex, Staffordshire and Wiltshire. Besides frontline services, he had also spent time in operations, staff, fire prevention, training and command functions.
Mr Fuller received the Queens Fire Service Medal in 2008 and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2012.
In 2016, he was made Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by The Queen and was also appointed a Deputy Lieutenant in 2017. Mr Fuller was also made a Member of St John in 2018.
In an interview with the Fire Industry Association in February, Mr Fuller described how Covid had impacted on the fire service.
He said: "I think everyone’s been affected in some way or other, we don’t enjoy having to restrict our activities, not doing the things or seeing the people we want to see.
"I think the service has stepped up and done work which, 18 months, 12 months ago, you wouldn’t have imagined.
"Firefighters and all of our staff have tried to provide whatever the community needed. I think the most significant changes to our ways of working are working from home and it probably did in a few weeks, what we have been trying to do for years.
"We have had to learn completely new ways to maintain relationships which we use in the community. I think in some ways it’s been the biggest event. "