Fire industry expert on the hunt for new recruit to follow in his footsteps at KFRS
15 October 2020
With a career spanning 50 years in firefighting and fire engineering, Paul Grimwood is highly regarded within the fire industry as an expert and pioneer for new operational tactics.
Paul, a principal fire engineer at Kent Fire and Rescue Service, has developed a range of revolutionary defences which have been adopted by fire services across the world, while providing support for complex fire engineering consultations, occupancy figures, smoke control calculations and fire strategies.
Now, an opportunity has arisen for someone to learn first-hand from Paul’s years of experience and extensive knowledge, as a fire engineer at KFRS.
The role is one of several new positions within the fire engineering team, which is responsible for overseeing and implementing a range of statutory building regulation consultations and recommendations, as well as providing fire safety advice and academic research.
Paul said: “I consider myself lucky to do a job that I love, even after nearly 50 years. It’s an industry that’s ever-changing but with still the same purpose; to protect and prevent.”
The father-of-two joined London Fire Brigade aged 18 in 1971, after applying since he was 15 years old, even for the role of station cook, despite not knowing a single recipe, but just to get his foot in the door. At the time he was London’s youngest ever firefighter and served in the capital for 27 years.
In the early part of his career, Paul took part of a series of detachments across America, where he studied high rise tactics and started to write articles about the subject. He went on to publish a series of books, such as Fog Attack and Euro Firefighter, which became sources of reference and part of the syllabus for firefighters. Paul was able to revisit New York’s South Bronx station in 2019, 44 years after his secondment.
Paul at South Bronx Fire Station in 1975 and in 2019
With his wealth of knowledge and expertise gained from working with a number of international fire services, including learning about compartment firefighting in Sweden, Paul has helped to shape firefighting procedures and fire engineering strategies. Many have been trialled and tested in Kent, including a new stairwell protection policy that it is hoped will be used by several other fire services in the UK.
Another of Paul’s successes is the review he undertook on flowrates when applying water to a fire. As a result of his research, Paul, supported by KFRS’ Director of Operations, Chris Colgan, introduced larger diameter hosereels onto the fleet of fire engines in the county, to improve suppression rates and drastically reduce the damage caused to buildings as a result.
“It’s a team job,” Paul said. “There is never one person who can do it all on their own, it takes a team and I’m fortunate to have worked with a number of outstanding teams in my time.
“But in my opinion, Kent is the most innovative service in the country. We’re always looking for new ways to improve and develop, whether its tactics or technology.”
Paul, second on the left, started his career with London Fire Brigade (pictured in 1972)
Despite his passion for fire engineering and commitment to his role, which is proven by his 60-mile commute to be in the office for 7.30am each day, Paul remains a firefighter at heart. He said: “My heart has always belonged on the back of a pump. I still get that feeling of adrenaline now when I hear the bells go down. It’s not quite as loud as it used to be but nothing beats that feeling.”
The person who successfully becomes KFRS’ new fire engineer will be able to benefit from Paul’s expertise, while working as part of the fire engineering team to support building safety colleagues and building control bodies.
The role is open for trainees to apply, providing they possess the right qualities and enthusiasm.
Other new vacancies within the department include fire safety inspectors and fire engineering design technicians.
For more details about the roles, or to apply, please visit our jobs page.