New Chief Fire Officer appointed

Following a rigorous recruitment process, the Commissioners for South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority are pleased to announce the appointment of Air Vice-Marshal Fin Monahan OBE DFC PhD as the new Chief Fire Officer.

Commissioner Carl Foulkes, chair of the appointment panel, said: “Throughout this recruitment process, the Commissioners were acutely aware of the importance of finding an exceptional leader to guide the Service through the cultural and organisational changes it faces.


“The Morris Review published in January called on the Service to broaden its approach to recruitment for senior level posts, which is why we extended the search outside the fire and rescue sector.

“We worked with executive search advisors, GatenbySanderson, and were pleased that we received applications from a diverse group of people from across the UK, both from within the fire and rescue sector and the wider public sector.

“All five short-listed candidates demonstrated excellent skills and experience that met our demanding person specification, and a commitment to creating the right environment for our people, the Service, and the communities we serve.

“At the end of five days of exercises, panels, and interviews, Fin Monahan stood out as the best and right person for the role, and we are delighted that he has accepted the invitation the join and lead the Service.

“On behalf of the Commissioners, I want to thank everyone – colleagues, unions, and external stakeholders – for the commitment and energy they put into making this recruitment process thorough, open, and fair.”


Air Vice-Marshal Fin Monahan joins SWFRS from a distinguished and decorated career as a fast jet pilot and senior leader in the Royal Air Force and MOD. He has completed many operational tours overseas, as well as being stationed in the UK. While based in Yorkshire, he led the RAF’s support to civilian authorities for the North of England, Southern Scotland and the Isle of Man including maintaining a 24/7 rapid response team and Mountain Rescue coverage.


While not a firefighter, he previously had a fire station under his command and, in preparation for deployment on aircraft carrier operations, he underwent basic firefighting and breathing apparatus training. He is currently the Director of ‘Defence Futures’, the MOD’s think tank at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham.


He holds Masters degrees from both University of Nottingham and University of Madras, and was awarded a Doctorate PhD on Organisational Culture from University of Birmingham in 2018. He is a published writer and has extensively researched culture and how to instil courage, morale, respect, and cohesion in uniformed organisations.


Commenting on his successful appointment, Air Vice-Marshal Fin Monahan said: “I am honoured to be entrusted with this important role, and I’m grateful to the staff, unions, stakeholders, and Commissioners for their confidence in me.


“I look forward to joining the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service team. I would like every staff member, regardless of their role or location, to feel proud of their work, and to join me and the leadership team to rebuild the Service into an organisation where everyone feels welcome, supported, and safe. That will help us build the cohesion and mutual support needed to fulfil our mission of keeping the 1.5 million citizens of South Wales safe.”


Air Vice-Marshal Monahan will take up the role of Chief Fire Officer once all the necessary background and security checks have been completed. In the meantime, Stuart Millington has agreed to continue as interim CFO to ensure a smooth handover process with Air Vice-Marshal Monahan.


The Commissioners and Air Vice-Marshal Monahan will be in close contact and begin the process of appointing a permanent Executive Leadership Team.


About Air Vice-Marshal Doctor Fin Monahan OBE, DFC, PhD

Air Vice-Marshal Doctor Fin Monahan OBE, DFC, PhD is a senior Royal Air Force officer. After training as a fast jet pilot, serving in active squadrons and exchange postings, he was appointed as commandant of the Central Flying School at RAF Cranwell, with the Red Arrows coming under his command. He has trained with several non-UK militaries, and currently serves as the Director of Defence Futures, also known as the MOD think tank.

Fin Monahan was born in Liverpool. He joined the Royal Air Force in September 1991, after serving with the East Lowlands Universities Air Squadron. On graduation from pilot training, he was posted to No. 4 Squadron flying the Harrier jump jet at RAF Laarbruch in Germany, during which he flew missions over Bosnia and Kosovo.

After Germany, he was posted to RAF Valley in North Wales, and then served in an exchange role with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, flying Skyhawk aircraft from RNZAF Base Ohakea.

While later serving as a pilot with No.1 Squadron in Afghanistan, he was called upon to run a mission at very short notice in support of embattled ground troops. He went on the mission alone and was later awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for gallantry on operations in 2006.

In 2007, he took command of Cambridge University Air Squadron. He then spent a year training at the Defence Services Staff College in India and, on returning to the UK, took up a post in charge of operations at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire. He was responsible for military aid to the civil authority for aircraft crash response and disaster relief for the North of England, Southern Scotland, and the Isle of Man.

In that role, he maintained 24/7 readiness with a rapid response team, a mountain rescue team, and on call aircraft assets that supported local emergency services. He also had a fire station under his command. While not a fire fighter, he underwent basic fire-fighting and breathing apparatus training in preparation for deployment on aircraft carrier operations.

Fin Monahan was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for building a NATO rapid response unit during 2013.

Between 2016 and 2018, he was the Commandant of the Central Flying School at RAF Cranwell. He was promoted to Air Commodore in December 2019 as “Head Doctrine (Air, Space and Cyber) in the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre” at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham. He was promoted to Air Vice-Marshal on 10 October 2022, on appointment as Director of the centre which has now been renamed as ‘Defence Futures’.

He holds Masters degrees from both University of Nottingham and University of Madras, and awarded a Doctorate PhD from University of Birmingham on organisational culture.

His military career has seen him lead many organisations on operations, but also through organisational and cultural change.