West Sussex’s new chief fire officer has officially taken up her new role this morning (Monday September 2).
Sabrina Cohen-Hatton said she was ‘absolutely delighted’ to be taking on the job.
She has nearly two decades of fire service experience, having most recently served as interim deputy chief fire officer for Surrey Fire & Rescue Service.
She said: “I am absolutely delighted to be here at West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, and I am very much looking forward to getting out and about to all of our stations to meet our crews who keep the residents of West Sussex safe 24 hours a day.
“I do appreciate that it has been a challenging couple of months for the fire service following the recent inspection report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire & Rescue Services, but I am really looking forward to working with our crews and our staff as well as our partners to make West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service the fire and rescue service it deserves to be.”
She takes over from Gavin Watts who retired in June. Deputy chief fire officer Neil Stocker has been acting chief fire officer in the interim.
Dr Cohen-Hatton said: “I would like to thank Neil for doing a great job leading the service for the past few months and I look forward to working with him as we take the service forward.”
Jacquie Russell, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for fire and rescue and communities, said: “I am delighted to welcome Sabrina to West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. Her wide ranging expertise will prove invaluable in helping to reaffirm a sense of value and identity within the workforce and developing future strategies that will assist us in continuing to both improve and provide an effective and efficient fire service for our residents.”
Dr Cohen-Hatton began her career with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service where she served as a firefighter, before working her way up to more senior roles in the service and eventually serving in London Fire Brigade before her secondment to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service.
She has helped shape national fire service policy and practice during her government secondments at Her Majesty Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS) and at the National Fire Chiefs Council.
Throughout her career as a firefighter, she has pursued further and higher education. She is a chartered psychologist and her pioneering research into critical decision-making has received national and international recognition.
She added: “Psychology as a discipline is really important to me, as it helps you to see the human element of everything you do, whether that’s the decisions you make, or the strategies you set. It is so important to think about the impact of what we do day in day out on the people who rely on us.
“As a fire and rescue service we are in an incredibly privileged position to be trusted by residents to know what to do when they’re, quite frankly, having the worst day of their lives. Understanding the psychology behind that means we can all make a contribution to doing our best to help them when they need us most.”