Strategic Commercial Board

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Strategic Commercial Board 

The Strategic Commercial Board is chaired by Ann Millington, Chief Executive Kent FRS and CFOA Procurement Strategic Lead and will primarily comprise of Chief Fire Officers (Category Sponsors) and Lead Procurement Professionals (Commercial Category Leads) from within the sector.

A Chief Fire Officer will lead and a virtual Procurement team will support each of the main procurement categories. This will help identify and facilitate opportunities for savings and efficiencies from collaboration through: improved use of spend data; developing a category management approach; developing forward plans and collaborative work programmes; and aggregating and consolidating fragmented spend.

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Strategic Commercial Board Biographies

The Fire Commercial Transformation Programme has identified six key categories of expenditure and for each category there is a Sponsor (CFO) and Commercial Lead. 


Chief Fire Office Sponsor Biography – Phil Loach

Phil Loach is the Category Sponsor for Operational Equipment and is currently the Chief Fire Officer for West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service.

A champion of work-based learning and values-based leadership, with an engineering, public and private sector background, CFO Phil Loach is responsible for leading 2000+ employees and a budget c. £100m at the largest Fire and Rescue Service outside of London, making sure the 2.7m people within the West Midlands Combined Authority area are ‘Safer, Stronger and Healthier’ whilst also providing capability to support national resilience and international rescue. 

Initially joining WMFRS as a Firefighter and eventually serving as Assistant and Deputy Chief, Phil became Chief Fire Officer in November 2013, more recently combining his post with a number of national roles including Vice-Chair of the National Fire Chief’s Council, the National Operational Guidance Programme, NSAT and the LGA Advisory Forum.  Phil has also played an active role in Government’s agenda to reform public services, becoming Chief Executive of Public Service Reform (PSR) for West Midlands Combined Authority in October 2016.

Driving an evidence-based approach to decision making has enabled Phil, with support from the WMFRS Strategic Enabling Team, to achieve pioneering collaborations with partners in the health sector, in addition to co-creating research opportunities with academic institutions, for example in exploring ‘survivability’ an area of activity which has significantly influenced WMFRS’ risk-based 5 minute attendance standard and Integrated Service Delivery Model, and the innovative introduction of smaller fire engines ‘Brigade Response Vehicles’ which match emergency response to the incident risk.

Phil passionately believes that rich communication should be at the heart of what he does and he is a regular speaker at local, regional and national events. In September 2013, Phil received the AFSA Award for Leadership in Equality and Diversity which acknowledged his influence as a leader in enabling others to recognise and fulfil their own potential. As part of his wider work within the Midlands region, Phil is also a member of the Board of Governors to the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, a patron of ‘Burn-Aid’, a charity that supports burn survivors and their families and he is President of the West Midlands Branch of the National Association of Retired Firefighters. 

Commercial Category Lead Biography – Mandy Beasley

Working with Phil as the Category Lead for Operational Equipment is Mandy Beasley who is currently the Head of Procurement at West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service. Mandy has been with the Fire Service since 2009 and her background is exclusively from within the Public Sector with over 30 years’ experience in Public Sector Procurement.

Prior to joining West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service Mandy was a Principal Procurement Manager at West Midlands Police for 13 years and has also worked for two West Midlands Local Authorities. During her career Mandy has developed an extensive knowledge in the procurement of almost all goods and services and has always sought to promote the benefits of collaboration within Public Sector procurement through active participation on Regional and National Groups.

Mandy is currently the Procurement Lead for the West Midlands Procurement Forum and also represents West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service and the wider Region on the Procurement & Social Value Task Groups of the West Midlands Combined Authority


Chief Fire Office Sponsor Biography – Stuart Errington

Chief Fire Officer Stuart Errington joined what was County Durham Fire Brigade in January 1993 as a firefighter. He has had a wide and varied operational career serving at a number of fire stations and in support departments across the Service. Stuart was appointed Chief Fire Officer, on an interim basis, in August 2015 becoming the first person in the Service’s history to progress internally from firefighter to chief officer. His appointment was made substantive on 21 March 2016. In 2006, Stuart spent two years seconded to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) as a Business Change Manager attached to the National Resilience Programme for Fire and Rescue Services. He became a Principal Officer (Assistant Chief Fire Officer) in 2009 and was promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 2012. For the last five years Stuart has held the elected position of National Secretary of the Association of Principal Fire Officers (APFO). He represents the Chief Fire Officers Association at the Inclusive Fire Services Working Group, leads on the national procurement work stream for fleet and Chairs the Draeger User Group. In order to drive income generation to help mitigate cuts to central government funding, Stuart established the Service’s Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2013 and chaired the board of directors until stepping down when he took over as Chief Fire Officer. Stuart has been a Graduate of the Institute of Fire Engineers since 1998, gained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Leicester in 2007 and a Master of Science (MSc) in Managing Organisational Performance from Cranfield University in 2011. In January 2014 he successfully completed the Business Directors Programme with Cranfield University. Stuart is married with two children and lives in Belmont, Durham. In his limited spare time he enjoys triathlon and competing in endurance running events.

Commercial Category Lead Biography – Melanie Walsh

Melanie became Head of Procurement and a member of the Service Leadership Team within Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service in 2012. She currently has a team of ten staff working across both procurement and supplies. In 2004 Melanie joined the fire service as Regional Procurement Manager for the then seven South West Fire and Rescue Services representing the region on the CFOA National Procurement Group. In 2008, Melanie obtained a Masters in Strategic Procurement Management from University of Glamorgan and became a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply in 2011. Melanie holds Prince II and Managing Successful Programmes qualifications and has led on a variety of national, regional and collaborative procurement projects. Melanie received a Society of Procurement Officers Award for outstanding contribution to procurement in 2004 and a Government Opportunity Individual Excellence Award in 2007. Prior to joining the Fire Service, Melanie worked at Devon and Cornwall Police in a variety of procurement and contract roles. Melanie is part of the South West Regional Procurement Board and is the Fire representative on the Local Government Associations National Advisory Group for Procurement. For further information about this Procurement Category please review the ‘Fleet Category Overview’ which has been provided with this newsletter and/or contact Melanie Walsh at Devon & Somerset FRS,


Chief Fire Office Sponsor Biography – Ann Millington

Ann Millington became Chief Executive of Kent Fire and Rescue Service in February 2011. Prior to that she had been KFRS Deputy Chief Executive and Human Resources Director, having joined the Service in February 2007. Ann is the NFCC Strategic Procurement Lead, Sponsor of the Fire Commercial Transformation Programme and Category Sponsor for the ‘Clothing’ category. She is also Chair of the Workforce Coordination Committee for the National Fire Chiefs Council. As KFRS’s Chief Executive, Ann has responsibility for all the functions of Kent Fire and Rescue Service. She works closely with elected Members of the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority to make sure efficient and cost-effective services are delivered, in line with the Service’s aims and objectives. She manages around 1,500 staff delivering a fire and rescue service for one of the UK’s largest and most geographically diverse counties of 1.7 million people. Ann is an Occupational Psychologist, with a background in change management, organisational development, training, HR and consultancy.

Commercial Category Lead Biography – Tina Butler

Tina Butler joined Kent FRS at the end of March 2017 as the Head of Procurement. Prior to her joining Kent FRS, from 2009, Tina worked with the Police Service as a member of the Commercial Team at the National Policing Improvement Agency, which was later absorbed into the Home Office in 2011. Tina was responsible for National contracts for major complex Police IT systems, such as Police National Database, biometrics identification, 3D laser scanning technology and Airwave. Tina was also Commercial Lead on the Collaborative Law Enforcement Procurement Programme (CLEP), which focused on £1.7bn of influential third party spend across the Police Service, with a savings aspiration of £330m by FY 19/20 as a direct result of standardisation and aggregation. During her time working with Police, Tina and her team delivered £64m cashable savings. For further information about this Procurement Category please review the ‘Clothing Category Overview’ or contact Tina Butler at Kent FRS,

Construction & Facilities Management

Chief Fire Office Sponsor Biography – Trevor Ferguson

Trevor Ferguson is the Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service. Trevor joined Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service in October 2014 having previously worked for Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service. Trevor worked for 20 years in Response, Prevention and Protection before moving onto senior management level. In addition to his extensive operational background, he has an MSc in Business and Innovation, is a member of the Institute of Fire Engineers and is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Commercial Category Lead Biography – Ian Pritchard

Ian joined the fire service in 2009. Ian’s background is in property management and construction project management with over 35 years of experience in this sector. Prior to joining the fire service Ian worked in the commercial sector as a consultant project manager and property consultant with an international organisation and prior to this with an international food logistics organisation. Ian has also had extensive experience working in the Ministry of Defence (MoD); this was in the management of the MoD estate and in building and civil engineering project management both in the UK and abroad. One of Ian’s latter roles in the MoD, was the writing of policy for overseas estate and project management; this was primarily for when British Forces are deployed outside of the UK to semipermanent bases in operational areas such as Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. For further information about this Procurement Category please review the ‘Construction & FM Category Overview’ or contact Ian Pritchard at Nottinghamshire FRS,


Chief Fire Office Sponsor Biography – Jamie Courtney

Jamie 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 as Area Manager, Emergency Response. Jamie was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2009 and 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. Jamie is the NFCC National Resilience Capability Lead for Command and Control and he chairs the National Operational Effectiveness Working Group.

Commercial Category Lead Biography – Dave Nichols

David joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service on 15 October 2018 from YPO (formally Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation) in Wakefield where he was Procurement Manager for Fleet, Highways and Buildings. He held this role for four and a half years and the Category Manager for Facilities Management for the last 9 months. He brings over 20 years of public sector and six years of private sector procurement experience and has been involved with major construction projects within Sheffield as well as across the wider region whilst in the private sector.

His experience includes procurement of fleet, repairs and maintenance, capital and cyclical construction projects, public sector frameworks, bid support and working closely with multi-discipline teams both in construction and Higher Education Sector.

Professional Services

Chief Fire Office Sponsor Biography – Chris Strickland

Chris joined Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) as Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2007, having spent 24 years with Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service where he joined as a firefighter aged eighteen. He spent twelve years as a firefighter before being promoted to Station Officer, the equivalent of today’s Station Commander role, later becoming Group, then Area Commander. After joining CFRS, Chris spent three years as Assistant Chief Fire Officer before being promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 2010. Chris was promoted to Chief Fire Officer in 2016. In addition to his responsibilities within CFRS, Chris also chairs the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) Sector Resources Committee and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Resilience Forum.

Commercial Category Lead Biography – Tracey Stradling

Tracey started her career with the Health Service in Cheshire before moving to Cambridgeshire where she took up the post of Head of Administration. In 2003 she became Head of Procurement and subsequently following a restructure took on the Business Support function with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service. During her career Tracey has overseen a range of major and complex procurements including, BA replacement, new vehicles, the combined fire control, a range of service contracts including Organisational Development Programmes and various consultancy and training contracts. Tracey sits on the Fire and Police Joint Collaboration Programme Board and Joint Strategic Interoperability Board. Tracey has recently undertaken the Procurement Lead for the Eastern Region Procurement Forum. For further information about this Procurement Category please review the ‘Professional Services Category Overview’ or contact Tracey Stradling at Cambridgeshire FRS,