Independent Inspection of the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service
Appendix B - NIFRS Team – Short Biographies of Inspectors
Robert Scott QFSM FIFireE – Chief Inspector
Robert Scott currently serves as His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, a post he has held since 2021. Robert joined the Fire and Rescue Service in 1989 and rose steadily through the ranks, being appointed as Assistant Chief Officer of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue in 2010. Robert formed part of a small team that led the reform of the Fire and Rescue Service in Scotland and resulted in the creation of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in 2013. Robert served as a Principal Officer/Director within the new national service until his retirement in 2017.
As Chief Inspector Robert serves under a Royal Warrant and operates within independence to provide assurance that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is performing in an efficient and effective manner and in line with the principles of Best Value.
Alasdair Hay CBE QFSM – Lead Inspector
Alasdair served as the first Chief Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the largest Service of its kind in Europe. Alasdair oversaw the reform of fire services in Scotland and served as Chief Officer until his retirement in 2019.
During this period of significant transformation he was the Accountable Officer, personally responsible to the Scottish Parliament for the £300 million budget, an adviser to the NJC and a Director of CFOA/NFCC. However, most importantly, Alasdair had to ensure the continuity of service delivery and was responsible to the Board for ensuring that all the statutory responsibilities of the Fire Authority were met.
Alasdair now serves as a non-executive member of the Board of the Scottish Police Authority and also acts as an operational advisor to the Deputy Mayor of London in relation to fire service matters.
John MacDonald – Inspector
John MacDonald joined the Fire and Rescue Service in 1991 and worked within the Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service for the majority of his career. John has a wealth of operational experience and specific experience in relation to the protection of communities living and working in remote areas. Within the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service John attained the rank of Deputy Assistant Chief Officer and led a small team tasked with developing a picture of risk and activity across the communities of Scotland. His work on the creation of a Community Risk Index Model (CRIM) is considered as an example of best practice and is underpinned by a wide range of data and assured through partnership with academia. This model will be used to identify opportunities to develop the service and ensure resources are used to maximum potential to protect the communities of Scotland.
Marieke Dwarshuis – Inspector
Marieke graduated in Law from Utrecht University in The Netherlands, and her career in Scotland spans nearly 30 years in the public and voluntary sector in a wide range of roles. She was Director of Consumer Focus Scotland, and a member of the senior management team that established the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. She has held positions in the Scottish Government, where amongst other things she worked on Access to Justice issues, and prior to that was Depute Director at Shelter Scotland. She started her career in Scotland at Citizens Advice Scotland.
Marieke has extensive experience as a non-executive director in the public sector. She was a Board member of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for more than eight years, chairing its Transformation and Major Projects Committee for six years and overseeing the transformation from eight previous fire services into one. She was a Board member for Food Standards Scotland for six years, and currently serves on the Board of the Scottish Housing Regulator, NHS24 and the Scottish Legal Aid Board. In a voluntary capacity she has been vice chair of Hillcrest Housing Association, a large social landlord and support services provider in the east of Scotland.
Alex Johnson QFSM – Inspector
Alex joined Derbyshire Fire Service in 1992 as a firefighter. At that time women made up less than 1% of the British Fire Service. Alex progressed through ranks in Derbyshire and moved to South Yorkshire in 2017 as the Assistant Chief Fire Officer, progressing to Deputy Chief in 2018 and becoming the first female Chief Fire Officer for South Yorkshire Fire in January 2020. Alex retired in May 2022 after 30 years’ service.
As Chief Fire Officer, Alex took responsibility for the Health, Safety and Welfare of approximately 1000 staff, ensuring they were both competent and confident to carry out their operational and support functions. In South Yorkshire she developed a workforce strategy and the Service received a ‘good’ rating in People, Efficiency and Effectiveness. As the Lead for the NFCC Equality, Diversity and Inclusion workstream, she has a strong understanding and is passionate about creating an inclusive culture and a diverse workforce. Alex has also been responsible for the organisational and training development portfolio in Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service. She was also a Breathing Apparatus instructor earlier in her career.