The retiring chief fire officer for Northamptonshire, may not be directly replaced, the county council has admitted.
Martyn Emberson announced he was leaving the top job at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue after nine years and a total of 31 years with the fire service.
But County Hall hinted yesterday that - as links between the police and fire service grow stronger - he could well be the county’s last fire chief.
Asked when candidates for the role would be interviewed, a spokeswoman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Deputies will be fulfilling the chief’s duties for the foreseeable future as we determine whether the chief role will be replaced.”
Mr Emberson has worked in Cleveland and Nottinghamshire before Northamptonshire.
During Mr Emberson’s time with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, he helped to reduce the number of call-out incidents by half and he was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2013.
He said: “It has been a privilege to work with some very talented and passionate people who have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities.”
Mr Emberson said he was particularly proud of helping pioneer the high-power Cobra water jet, which can cut through walls, keeping firefighters safer and rescuing people quicker.
He also said the fact that firefighters now responded to medical emergencies had helped save many lives of heart attack victims.
County council leader, Councillor Jim Harker said: “I would like to thank Martyn for his commitment and hard work.
“His leadership and dedication to public service have played a key role in transforming the county’s fire service into one we can be proud of. I would like to wish him the very best for his well-deserved retirement.”
Mr Emberson will leave the fire service on July 31.