Meet Bernie Higgins, a board member of the FIA and founder of ROAR UK Ltd. From a distinguished career in the London Fire Brigade to his current roles in standards committees and consultancy, Bernie shares his proudest achievements, insights on industry improvement, and his vision for the future.

26 February 2024 by Charlotte Brill, Content Marketing Executive

My name is Bernie Higgins, and I am an elected board member of the FIA and run my own fire consultancy - Risk, Operations, Assurance & Resilience (ROAR) UK Ltd. I also Chair two standards committees: British Standard Committee FSH17 for fire service equipment and European Standards Committee CEN T/C 192 also, for firefighting equipment. My passions are training and public/responder safety.

I’m a huge rugby fan and looking forward to the Six Nations and next year’s British Lions tour.

What initially attracted you to join the fire industry?

I left school at 16 and joined the Greater London Council in the London Fire Brigade (LFB) pay offices. I got to see the Brigade up close and decided that I’d like to be a firefighter and joined a couple of weeks after my 18th birthday. I retired as a Deputy Assistant Commissioner after 33 years’ service (loved every minute). I have stayed in the fire sector, running my own consultancy business and working for an FIA member company – ColdCut Systems UK who make Cobra Ultra High Pressure Firefighting equipment.

Reflecting on your life so far, what achievement or milestone are you most proud of, and why?

Can I have two?

 I was in charge of the LFB’s Equality and Diversity training team and we achieved significant culture change via a ground-breaking training programme. Sadly, budget constraints saw the team disbanded after I left as it was felt that our work was done.

I brought in a new national fire service capability – National Inter Agancy Liaison Officers (NILOs) and became the first ever NILO Co-ordinator. This role bridges an information and communication gap between the fire service and partner agencies at critical incidents. It is great to see that the role has grown and developed over the years.

How can the fire industry be improved and what does it need for this to happen?

The UK fire sector has a huge amount of knowledge and experience within it and needs to work in proper partnership together, at present there are too many silos and too much personality politics.

I’d love to see a fire safety collaboration board, including academia and the well-known UK fire sector bodies, that is empowered to commission work and projects to be undertaken and can come together to look at both current and future issues and threats and develop workable effective solutions. Get everyone to work together for the sake of public safety.

In the next five years, do you have any career goals within the fire industry, and what steps are you taking to reach them?

I want to continue to learn more about the various disciplines within the fire safety sector. I am currently undertaking fire risk assessor qualifications and I intend to build from there. I also want to continue to do my level best to advance the Fire Industry Association as the go to fire sector trade association.

What's the most valuable piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting their career, in the industry?

Never stop learning and developing. Listen more than you speak and bring your best self to work every day.

What is the most important area of work that the FIA is involved with (for you and the overall industry - if different)?

The special interest group (SIG) work produces some outstanding results and, right now, the most important of these is the Li-Ion battery SIG. A public awareness campaign is needed – especially around the use of second-hand Li-Ion batteries or using ones that may have suffered damage.

From my perspective the work we are doing in FRES Council on innovation in the fire rescue service. I am passionate about firefighter and public safety and I believe that new risks need new solutions.

What is your favourite hobby or personal interest outside of work?

I love going to live sporting events – rugby, cricket, football especially and going for long walks with my partner Judy and my German Shepherd dog Heidi.

What superpower would you have and why?

I would love to have the power to bestow peace and understanding on people and nations. The world feels so divided right now at a time when we need a global effort to counteract climate change and save the planet for future generations to enjoy.

If you could go anywhere in the world for a holiday for three months all expenses paid, where would you go and why?

India and the Far East to learn more about their culture, spirituality and mental discipline.

Name 3 characters you would have to dinner for the perfect evening. One dead, one alive and one fictitious.

Ernest Shackleton - to learn more about his leadership during his trip to the South Pole, Eric Cantona - for his football tales and his views on the arts, Rumpole of the Bailey - to hear tales from the cases he has been involved in told in his own inimical style.