Cheshire’s Chief Fire Officer has been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal after almost 31 years in fire and rescue.
Mark Cashin has been recognised in the 2020 Birthday Honours list for the profound contribution he has made to fire prevention, keeping people healthy and safe from fire.
Commenting on the announcement today of his award, Mark said: “I am humbled and honoured to have been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal. I firmly believe that the prevention activity the Service undertakes makes a huge difference to people’s safety. In some cases, life-changing or life-saving.
“That is why I am keen to push forward our innovative programmes such as Safe and Well, Safety Central, The Prince’s Trust and our wider work across Cheshire.
“While I am delighted to have received the QFSM, there is no better satisfaction than knowing that the success of our work is because of the fantastic efforts of all staff right across Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
“Each and every day they are making a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Mark became Chief Fire Officer in 2018 having previously held the post of Deputy Chief Fire Officer since 2007. Before that he worked in Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service.
The 50-year-old has provided senior national leadership and direction in establishing the innovative ‘Safe and Well’ programme with partners. Mark’s direct engagement with health leaders at the highest levels, including the Chief Executive of the NHS, was key to developing the principles, approach and data sharing between agencies to successfully establish the programme.
His drive in engaging locally with leads from Clinical Commissioning Groups, Public Health Directors and councils led to an agreed set of areas in which firefighters could make a real difference to the health outcomes of individuals within the community. This also ensured sound governance and referral pathways to partner agencies.
Since launching in February 2017, the results of the Safe and Well programme are impressive. Cheshire firefighters have delivered more than 70,000 Safe and Well visits. These have resulted in more than 6,000 people being referred to health professionals and authorities for specific support to improve health and treat illnesses such as bowel cancer and atrial fibrillation. In four cases, lives were saved directly from the bowel cancer screening referral as part of this initiative.
From 2012, Mark spearheaded a campaign to introduce legislation mandating private landlords to install smoke alarms in their rental properties. Leading a small campaign team, he tirelessly lobbied Members of Parliament, Councillors and external stakeholders to build broad support for legislative action. His efforts paid off when the issue was raised during Parliamentary questions and presented as a Ten-Minute Rule Bill in Parliament in 2014.
This was followed by a Government consultation seeking views on introducing such a law. Mark maintained effective relationships with officials leading this review and continued to press for change. The Government introduced this legislation in 2015, marking a successful end to the campaign.
The Government’s own assessment has shown that there will be 231 fewer fatalities and 5,860 fewer injuries from fire over 10 years due to this law.
In addition to his efforts in keeping people safe, Mark has also volunteered a significant amount of time in support of charitable efforts promoting the work of fire and rescue services within the community – with a particular focus on transforming the lives of young people.
As the National Chair of the Prince’s Trust Fire Services Association, he is a prominent advocate for the charity and has regularly championed best practice to help services across the country deliver effective youth engagement programmes.
As a Trustee of the charity Classroom in the Clouds, he has supported four visits to Nepal by Cheshire fire cadets and apprentice firefighters. These self-funded visits have raised more than £100,000 for the charity and led to the construction of three new schools in rural Nepal, providing education opportunities for disadvantaged children – particularly girls.