Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
June 19, 2014

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Top 20 Influential Figures in Fire 2014 – Inaugural results from FIREX International

Sir ken knightSir Ken Knight has topped FIREX International’s inaugural roll call of the Top 20 Most Influential People in Fire.

Announced live this afternoon on FIREX TV – which is being broadcast live on huge screens around FIREX International 2014 – the Top 20 in Fire competition is the result of hundreds of votes cast over several weeks. The final countdown was finalised by an expert industry judge based on the respective merits of the nominees.

A firefighter from the age of 21 Sir Ken spent more than four decades in the service he describes as “is in my blood”, culminating in his appointment in 2007 as chief fire and rescue adviser to the government.

Now retired, his parting act was a seismic report – Facing the Future – that recommended greater collaboration between fire authorities and several measures to streamline the fire service.

Last year several leading figures from the fire community appeared in the IFSEC Top 40 most influential people in security and fire; this year, for the first time, FIREX announces its own top 20.

Although this separation comes as the fire and security worlds increasingly converge – consider the appearance of Xtralis’ Samir Samhouri and C-Tec’s Andrew Foster in both lists – the world of fire prevention, protection and safety very much merits its own list of luminaries.

Among those surviving from last year are chief fire commissioner Peter Holland, Sarb Sembhi, Ray Hope, Brian Robinson, Fire Sector Federation, Graham Ellicott, FIA, Wilf Butcher, ASFP.

Whether they’ve been a driving force behind legislative or technological change, an influential voice in the industry’s most contentious debates or steered their company to a dominant position in the industry, the following 20 have been deemed the most influential figures in the fire industry in 2014.

The top 20 Most Influential Figures in Fire

20. John Guest, director, Eligo Recruitment

19. Steve McGuirk, County Fire Officer and Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

18. Brandon Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

17. Kathryn O Brien, health and safety and fire safety manager

16. Bill Rossiter, MD, No Climb Products

15. Martin Harvey, Head of European Regulatory Affairs, at Tyco International

14. Sabba Nashbandi, barrister, Three Raymond Buildings

13. Simon Ince, strategic alliance and partnership manager, Warrington Certification Ltd

12. Derek Hall, head of fire products, Siemens Fire Products – Cerberus Pro

11. Brian Robinson, chairman, Fire Safety Association (FSA)

10. Colin Todd, MD, CS Todd and Associates

9. Ray Hope, MD, Advanced Electronics

8. Peter Holland, Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser

7. Andrew Foster, MD, C-Tec

6. Ben Bradford, MD, BB7 Fire


Jon on eill5. Jonathan O’Neill, MD, Fire Protection Association (FPA)

Jonathan, who became Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association back in 1999, sits on numerous government and ministerial advisory bodies including the Business & Community Safety Board, the Arson Control Forum, the Integrated Risk Management Advisory Board and the Operational Guidance Strategy Board.

Jonathan is also member of the NSI Fire Sector Committee and the Boards of both SSIAB and BAFE.

He has steered the FPA through two relocations, managed the RISC Authority research budget, and represents UK insurers on the Prevention Committee of CEA.

One of his advocates during nominations called Jonathan “one of the most recognisable and respected names in the fire sector. He has transformed the FPA during his tenure as managing director. He is a known campaigner, lobbier of government/authorities and a regular speaker at a wide-range of international industry events.”

Wilf butch4. Wilf Butcher, CEO, Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP)

Wilf Butcher has played a prominent role in the fire industry since his appointment to CEO of the ASFP in 2007.

Among the praise issued in support of his nomination was this comment:

“Wilf has been the driving force behind a series of seminars on Passive Fire Protection touring the FRS Regional HQs. He also supports many aspects of passive fire protection, through networking; lobbying and generally cheer-leading.

“He’s passionate, extremely knowledgeable, a good strategean and tireless in his efforts. His work is significantly raising awareness and providing education to a wide audience hungry for information.”

Samir3. Samir Samhouri, CEO, president, chairman, Xtralis

Samir is CEO, chairman and president of Xtralis, which manufactures smoke detection, gas detection and video surveillance security products for the early detection, visual verification, and prevention of fire and intrusion threats.

Joining the organisation in July 2007, Samir has doubled the size of the business and overseen the launch of successful products like VESDA-E.

Before Xtralis he was Executive Vice President and General Manager of Agere Systems’ $500 million dollar Networking Division.

G Ellicott2. Graham Ellicott, CEO, Fire Industry Association (FIA)

Graham was appointed as the first CEO of the Fire Industry Association in April 2007 when the BFPSA and FETA joined forces to form the new Association. Prior to this Graham was CEO of the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) and Managing Director of the Manoval Group.

With over 30 year’s experience in the fire protection sector, Graham has worked in North America and Europe in the cellulosic fire, hydrocarbon fire and flame retardency sectors. Graham is a Charter Chemist, a Chartered Scientist and a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers.

Sir ken knight1. Sir Ken Knight CBE, QFSM, FIFireE,DL, former chief fire and rescue adviser to the government and director at Ken Knight Consulting Ltd.

In June 2013 Sir Ken published a review of England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities and Facing the Future has had far-reaching implications for the industry.

Now retired, Sir Ken more than merits is spot at the summit as the repercussions of his reforms are still being felt. His central recommendations – that the fire service must evolve to reflect modern needs – have led to the controversial closure of several venerable fire stations.

Citing to a 40% decline in callouts over the past decade and an all-time low of deaths – take a bow, fire industry! – Sir Ken argued that the modern fire brigade as was much about prevention as response – “prevention is our calling card”, he said of the fire industry.

Pointing to resourcing imbalances he recommending greater collaboration or merging between fire services.

If his recommendations have been contentious, then no one could doubt the magnitude of his influence.

Sir Ken was also responsible for the enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in Crown premises in England and advised the government on fire safety arrangements and operational response by fire and rescue services for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.

He has produced a report on the widespread flooding in 2007, conducted a review of the Lakanhal House fire in southeast London advised on national fire safety and civil defence arrangements in the Kurdish region of Iraq at the request of the Kurdish Regional Government.

Sir Ken was also London’s Fire Commissioner between 2003 and 2007.

Another of those putting Sir Ken forward for nomination commented: “Sir Ken has served the Fire community for many years, starting as a fire fighter, then as Commissioner to the London Fire Brigade and then as Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser to the Government.

“In each of his roles he has always put the FRS first and continues to use his network of contacts to ensure the safety of fire fighters and members of the public. He is passionate about standardization and enforcement and is a major influence in the fire industry.”


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Maverick Fire
Maverick Fire
June 23, 2014 10:08 pm

It would seem that the size of your stand is proportional to your chances of being on this list for 11 of the above.