From Catering Manager to Driving Innovation within the Fire and Rescue Service

Jo Mann's incredible story started at Hull College, where she first trained as a Chef and Catering Manager.

Today, she is the Public Safety Risk and Intelligence Manager for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS), as well as the National Lead for Data Collection and Sharing for the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

HFRS is a corporate member of C4DI and Jo is currently working with talent within the community to innovate and develop the Fire and Rescue Service.

We caught up with this inspirational woman to discover more about the future of HFRS and learn about her journey.

Great to chat with you, Jo. So, how did you go from being a connoisseur in cuisine to an innovator in Data Science and Machine Learning?

After college, I continued my career in cooking for some years, training to be an assistant manager and eventually working weekends so I could fit my job around spending time with my family.

During this time, I attended several night school courses in everything from accounting to the Microsoft Suite  - I have always loved learning and absorbing new things.

I took the  first step into my current career after landing a temporary position at HFRS in their statistics office. The reason I am where I am today is because of their progressive mindset - they believed in me.

Once I started, I continued to immerse myself in a lot of different development courses, such as mapping, GIS training and police analysis.

Eventually, I worked my way up and now have a team of four working with me to carry out data analysis and risk management for the Service.

Wow, what a change!

Yes! I have now been working for HFRS for 25 years, but becoming Public Safety and Risk Intelligence Manager is where things have really taken off in terms of my relationship with the technology sector.

We’re currently working with C4DI to look at how we can take advantage of various technologies and apply them to public safety.

So, how can this technology have an impact on the Fire and Rescue Service?

Our aim is to build on our already strong ethos of prevention. We want to develop this into a regional way of working that means early intervention is the norm. Technology can help us achieve this by gathering useful data to create a fuller picture of society.

What we're trying to do is build bridges between different sectors and organisations. Everyone, such as the police force, hospitals and schools, has a small piece of the puzzle. By stitching this information together, we can seriously enhance the way we deal with and prevent issues.

By working with the C4DI, we have been able to gain an insight into the technology behind it all, as well as discuss new ways in which the Fire and Rescue Service can achieve their aims.

For example, AI can spot patterns that we won't necessarily see, whilst humans frame the problem and make sense of it all.

I am also personally working with the National Fire Chiefs Council and have been made the lead for Data Collection and Sharing in their Integrated Data and Research Programme. As part of that role, I am jointly chairing a working group to develop a new national incident recording system.

Wow, so HFRS is leading the way in this sort of innovation?

I would say we're one of the leaders, yes. However, there are so many examples of local authorities, councils and police forces adopting these techniques to develop their service.

Yorkshire already boasts some fantastic examples of data warehouse initiatives, with Hull flying the flag for technological change by developing its own Smart City.

As a fire service, HFRS is certainly paving the way for this type of innovation.


If you’re interested in finding out more or working with the C4DI,  please contact