New Essex chief fire officer “not tangled up” in its toxic history

A deputy chief fire officer of Essex has been promoted as its new chief.

Rick Hylton’s appointment comes as Essex Fire and Rescue’s former chief fire officer Jo Turton stepped down after more than three years.

She had been praised for improving and addressing the “intimidatory culture” steeped in “dangerous and pervasive bullying ” found in an independent inspection in 2015, which described the organisational culture in the ECFRS as “toxic”.

Mr Hylton – who was appointed at a special meeting of the Essex Police, Fire and Crime Panel today (October 29) – said he would focus on reorientation, growth and building capability within the service as well as continuing the work to improve culture.

He said: “I understand there remains a lot to do but I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together so far and excited about what can be achieved in the years to come.

“It is my motivation to make a difference in the context of the Chief Fire Officer’s role, that means creating an environment in which my staff can flourish and in turn holding ourselves to account and delivering the best possible service to local communities.

“It is my view the vacancy of chief fire officer has come at an important time.

“Momentum and continuity are important to an organisation that is beginning to find its feet and confidence.

“I find myself in the unique position to be part of the organisation long enough to understand its realities and able to offer that continued momentum but new enough that I am not tangled up in its history.”

Mr Hylton joined Cambridgeshire fire and rescue service in 1997. Having worked in a variety of roles he was appointed Head of Community Safety in 2010, where he delivered a progressive approach to targeted home safety.

He established the first joint education and enforcement team with Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire Police, in addition to implementing the services first volunteer scheme.

In 2016, he was appointed Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Cambridge with responsibilities for service delivery and operational support.

In 2019, he joined Essex County Fire and Rescue Service as the deputy chief fire officer.

He had responsibilities for strategic planning, assurance and performance and is the strategic lead for collaboration, working with partners to deliver on the Police Fire and Crime Commissioners local business case. In 2020 he was the co-chair of the Essex Strategic Coordination Group for the Covid 19 pandemic.

He has a master’s in public administration from Warwick University. He is married with two children.


Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter