THE new chief of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service was confirmed last week as Ballycastle man Peter O’Reilly.
48-year-old Peter served as Northern Area Deputy Commander and Northern Area Commander covering a wide area of Northern Ireland before moving to the GMFRS.
A firefighter for 25 years, he lived in Ballyvoy and was well known in the area up until he moved to Manchester in 2011.
The top-level appointment was ratified at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Authority last week following a selection process. The prestigious post attracts a salary of around £150,000.
Mr O’Reilly, who is currently Assistant County Fire Officer, lives in Salford with his two daughters and a grandson. He joined the fire service in March 2011 as Director of Prevention and Protection after serving for 21 years with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
He served in Belfast for most of his career as a firefighter, a junior officer and a district commander. He became the Area Commander in Northern Ireland in 2009.
Announcing the appointment, Fire Authority chairman councillor David Acton said: “We are very pleased that we have appointed Peter as our new chief.
“Steve McGuirk will be a hard act to follow but I am absolutely confident that Peter is the right person for the job. He has got a great deal of experience, both in operational and prevention work and I am sure that he will take the service forward positively.”
Mr O’Reilly, who champions the service’s work in youth development and apprenticeships, became a firefighter at the age of 23 after he worked as an apprentice engineer then in management for the city council in Belfast.
He said: “This is the proudest day of my career as a firefighter. What used to be known as a fire brigade is now a much-changed service. The support of the fire authority has been the key to that.
“Greater Manchester FRS is probably the most innovative fire service in the country. We have laid the way in the future of fire fighting, community engagement and keeping the public safer. Our firefighters are working with young people that do not have the privileges that I had.”