MERSEYSIDE'S Chief Fire Officer is stepping down to take up a similar role in Australia. 

Dan Stephens has accepted the offer to take up the role of chief executive officer / chief officer of the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade in Victoria.

He said: "It has been a real privilege to serve as chief over the last seven years.

"Despite the most challenging of circumstances I believe we have maintained an excellent level of service to the people of Merseyside and that is all due to the professionalism and commitment of our staff."

A spokesperson for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority confirmed that deputy chief fire officer Phil Garrigan will take over the role of chief fire officer temporarily when Mr Stephens leaves. Area manager Nick Searle will take over, temporarily, as deputy Chief Fire Officer.

An appointments process to permanently fill the post will then follow.