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Dedicated fire safety expert receives IOSH award

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A career dedicated to fire safety earns prestigious recognition

Gary Laird, a retired member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), has been honoured with the President’s Distinguished Service Award (PDSA) for his extensive contribution to the field of fire safety.

The award was presented to Laird by IOSH President Stuart Hughes during a recent meeting of the Fire Risk Management Group, acknowledging over a decade of Laird’s commitment to the group and his enduring service to the IOSH Yorkshire Branch.

With a career spanning more than fifty years in safety-related roles, Laird dedicated 35 years to the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, focusing on operational fire safety and fire investigation.

His journey continued at Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, where he served as Senior Health and Safety Advisor for 15 years.

Following this period, Laird established his own consultancy and has been actively involved in volunteering, notably on the governing body of a local school and for IOSH.

Supporting the IOSH vision through leadership and education

Laird’s leadership roles within the Fire Risk Management Group, including terms as chair and vice-chair, have seen him support numerous safety-led events and collaborate with Richard Jones, IOSH’s former Head of Policy, on fire safety initiatives.

His recent efforts have been directed towards the development of a ‘Back to Basics’ series on fire safety, encompassing a textbook, distance learning programmes, guidance publications, and webinars aimed at Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) professionals.

Recognition and reflections on a distinguished service

Upon receiving the award, Laird expressed his gratitude and reflected on his experiences: “I am very pleased to accept the award.

“I have met and worked with some inspirational people, have presented in Hong Kong, Bulgaria, Switzerland, and numerous locations in the UK.

“I’ve also presented on the terrace of the House of Commons, represented IOSH at the Fire Sector Federation and the Parliamentary All Party Fire and Rescue Group.

“Fire Safety is as important today as ever, due to complacency which needs to be addressed.”

Stuart Hughes highlighted the qualities that Laird embodies and the impact of his work: “Some words listed in the nomination that nicely sum up the person Gary is – knowledgeable, calm but enthusiastic, supportive, passionate, considered, professional, wants to make a difference, cares about lives.

“It’s due to volunteers like yourself that we are able to move that step closer to our vision of a safe and healthy world of work.”

IFSJ Comment

The recognition of Gary Laird with the President’s Distinguished Service Award by IOSH underscores the vital role of dedication and expertise in advancing fire safety.

Laird’s extensive career and voluntary service have contributed to the body of knowledge and practice in fire safety, exemplifying the profound impact of committed professionals in shaping a safer and healthier work environment.

His work, particularly in education and advocacy, serves as a testament to the importance of addressing complacency and continuously promoting fire safety awareness.

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