Tim Edwards.

The man who headed Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s much-praised response to the recent heatwave wildfires, is to retire.

Interim chief fire officer Tim Edwards is to retire from the service at the end of the summer and Ceri Sumner has been appointed service director in a new role.

Mr Edwards said: “After 34 years with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, I’ve seen many incidents and served alongside many truly remarkable people. 

“It has been a privilege to serve as interim chief fire officer, and I’d like to thank my colleagues for all their support and hard work. 

“I know the service is now in safe hands and pass to Ceri an exceptional team to help protect Norfolk.”

Ceri Sumner.

Mr Edwards joined the service at the age of 16 in 1988 and served on various watches as an operational firefighter before rising up the ranks.

He has served as West Norfolk’s Fire Service district manager and as assistant chief fire officer, being appointed interim chief fire officer in February this year following the announcement of Stuart Ruff’s retirement. 

Mr Edwards led the service’s response to last month’s unprecedented heatwave which sparked devastating fires in the region.

In the wake of her appointment, Ceri Sumner said: “It is a privilege to lead such a crucial, well-regarded service of dedicated professionals, who have shown such courage and skill in the face of recent wildfires. 

“I have over 25 years experience spanning the private and public sector that will bring a different perspective to the service.

“I’ll be focusing on working effectively with teams to ensure we address points raised in the recent inspection report, as well as continuing the collaboration with other emergency services in protecting Norfolk’s residents and businesses.”

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council, which is responsible for the service, said the new role provides “overall leadership for the service, ensuring effective delivery across the county and developing its relationships with the broader emergency and other public services”.

“Unlike a chief fire officer, the director is not a trained firefighter nor expected to carry out frontline fire-fighting or incident command. Similar models are in place in other fire services across the country, including in Kent and Hertfordshire,” the spokesperson said.

Margaret Dewsbury, county council cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: “The outpouring of support for the fire service we have seen over recent weeks shows how well regarded Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service is, and I want to thank Tim for all the hard work he has done over the past six months to maintain the service’s hard earned and well deserved reputation.”

She also congratulated Ms Sumner, who will take up her appointment on September 5.