Why the hospitality recruitment business is definitely on Fire as the UK market enters the first quarter of 2022

Fire Hospitality founder Rodney Burt – known as Rodders to everyone in the industry – explains what became the driving force behind creating a new standard in recruitment in the hospitality and events industry, and reveals how the fledgling company rode out the storms during the pandemic lockdowns. After diversifying, Fire is now looking to expand in 2022 by opening a new London office. 

THERE has never been a better time to join the team at Fire Hospitality.

I have spent the last 35 years working in the hospitality and leisure industry, having started as a kitchen porter with Marriott hotels in the 1980s, working my way up to deputy manager with Hilton.

I moved into recruitment back in 1998 and having worked for two/ three large players in the business, I decided to branch out on my own four years ago.

I founded Fire Hospitality with financial director Mike Carter, in the spring of 2018, having worked with him for some 24 years.

Now just four years later, Fire Hospitality has a proven reputation, setting a new benchmark in hospitality recruitment.

We obviously faced a very difficult two years as a result of the pandemic.

But the COVID crisis forced us to diversify the business – setting up a healthcare and food production division in the late spring and early summer of 2020.

That enabled us to offer work for the scores of people who had helped us provide a wide variety of front of house and back of house staff at a large number of stadia and public events, on top of expertise in finding temporary and permanent chefs and kitchen staff.

We have also a proven track record finding waiting and bar staff for permanent positions, which is a big part of why we have enjoyed such great success over a short period of time.

Now in the first few weeks of 2022, we are in a position to expand again with the opening of a new London office – headed up by another industry veteran in Anthony Blee.

The Fire directors have every confidence Antony will be able to replicate the success we have had in Hampshire, Devon and Surrey quickly, by rolling out our completely client-focused methods into the nation’s capital.

It should create some wonderful opportunities for Fire Hospitality to work with more national and international brands.

Not only do we pride ourselves in being the hospitality recruiter that gets the right time to your busy business, we can help train your workers as well, increasing staff retention and productivity.

And when it comes to front-of-house teams, there’s nobody better. Fire Hospitality has a wealth of knowledge to find the ideal candidates to join your business.

In a challenging environment, you can rely on us to fill your posts knowing you have a fully-trained employee, ready for work – if you have an event that needs staffing at short notice, or a permanent position that you have been struggling to fill, please just give us call.

Equally, we have candidates who can help fill in temporary positions while your business adapts to the problems created by the pandemic across the hospitality and leisure industry.

So what makes Fire Hospitality so special – even if we do say it ourselves?

Well, our five-strong team of directors all have plenty of experience in the real world. Together we have racked up nearly 120 years in the hospitality and leisure fields, from small, start-up businesses, to household names and brands with reputations reaching out around the world.

Our two original directors were joined by Operations Director Jadon Connis in the autumn of 2018, shortly after Anthony Cook, who took on the role of Director of Permanent Recruitment at the end of 2020.

We are all responsible for different sectors in both temporary and permanent recruitment.

A common question we are asked is: “Where are you getting all these candidates from?” Many existing recruitment firms have been unable to fill our customers’ requirements.

We are not a CV factory… we get the best talent in the right places at the right time – in fact I stake our reputation that Fire will always deliver.

We can deal with high volume and understand supply and demand in the industry.

We are able to operate on a national basis and can supply senior level candidates in both permanent and temporary positions.

We meet all compliance needs, and assess what our customers require from their staff before recommending our best candidates.

Once we have placed them, whether it is for a single day or evening’s work, a few shifts, or covering for longer periods, maybe due to illness, maternity cover, or short-term peaks in demand, we support our staff in the workplace, ensuring good feedback on both sides, and satisfaction from both the worker and their new boss.

Getting to know our candidates as well as our clients

We take the time to get to know our candidates – they are our assets and yours and are at the heart of our partnership with our clients.

Providing staff in the hospitality and leisure industry – whether it be hotels, bars, pubs, restaurants, tourist attractions or the many famous and regular sporting events we have supplied staff to, is not a numbers game to everyone at Fire Hospitality.

We only select the suitable candidates with our meticulous screening process.

Fire Hospitality also uses the latest technology to screen individuals to get the perfect match for our clients.

Our team of industry experts understand each of our candidate’s career path and journey – their potential as well as discovering and nuturing the passion that drives them.

All of our temporary candidates are scanned by the Home Office-endorsed UComply system, so that only staff who are legally entitled to work in the UK are used.

All our candidates undergo biometric identification checks before being registered on our own system, and have a simple to use app to help them record their availability for shifts or longer placements.

And as I said earlier, we support our candidates with educational opportunities to help them develop their careers.

As a result, Fire Hospitality makes sure your temporary and permanent positions are filled by a company you can trust.

Leading brands working with Fire Hospitality
But just don’t take our word for it – check out the growing number of top UK brands we have worked with over the last four years – Hilton, Malmaison, Goodwood, Fullers, QHotels, Delicious Dining and the Lime Wood Group.

We have also supplied staff to work at a number of top sporting events – including Premiership football at Brighton and Southampton, as well as Reading and Portsmouth FC, top Rugby Premiership side Harlequins with regular teams working in the concessions stands serving food and beveridges.

Next month, we are excited to be recruiting a 120-strong team to work at Cheltenham Festival, having provided staff at the world-famous National Hunt event for the first time.

Our events team have already worked at Wincanton, Sandown and Newbury racecourses.

Our staff have been a regular sight working for Hilton Hotels at The Ageas Bowl, in Southampton, which has hosted England’s Test matches and One-Day internationals through the pandemic.

We have provided front-of-house and back-of-house teams as well as teams of chefs to work at a number of private events.

London office now headed by Anthony Blee

And our fledgling London office – which is headed up by another veteran of the hospitality industry in Anthony Blee – has already secured regular placements at Rugby Premiership matches at Harlequins in Twickenham, and at Brentford’s new Community Stadium, when it has hosted London Irish matches.

Expanding into London will hopefully open opportunities to work at even more top national and hopefully international sporting events and other major entertainments events at some iconic venues.

I know Anthony is particularly looking forward to the return of some large music concerts and festivals in the summer of 2022, now that the latest COVID variant seems to have passed without forcing the entertainment industry into another lockdown.

Fingers crossed, the whole hospitality industry can now get back on its feet after the disappointments of lost business before Christmas.

We believe public confidence will gain strength over the coming weeks and pubs, restaurants and bars will soon be trading at something more akin to pre-pandemic levels.

Of course, that will create demand for staff, both permanent and temporary – and Fire Hospitality will be ready to help customers, old and new, meet those staffing needs.

Meet the rest of the Fire Hospitality team

So I will take this opportunity to introduce the rest of the Fire Hospitality team.

CHARLENE BEALE – is one of our three divisional managers and looks after Stadia and Events. She brings a wealth of experience from working in hospitality and events.

She can count working with big names such as the Compass Group and Spotless in New Zealand.

Charlene is a very safe pair of hands when it comes to managing outside catering at large-scale sporting and cultural events, at iconic venues, often with a staff total of more than 1,000.

Her experience of managing payroll and admin, HR advice – as well as staff training – means no job is too big or too small for Charlene.

EDDIE LAMBERIO – Divisional Manager Back of House. With more than 13 years working in recruitment helping hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants, Eddie can help with your temporary back-of-house requirements, and can source DBS-checked staff for more sensitive roles.

In the past Eddie has worked at major events including Goodwood, Twickenham Stadium and the Cheltenham Festival.

CAROLINE RODAWAY is our Divisional Manager in charge of recruiting temporary chefs, having worked over the last decade in a number of Michelin-star and rosette restaurants, with the likes of Matt Gillen and John Marsden-Jones.

As a former head chef Caroline sets very high standards, knows how to talk to chefs. Her confident and driven manner gained from working in luxury hotels and high-class restaurants can bring instant results for your business.

Why talent acquisition is so important

MACY GRIFFITH is our Front of House Consultant at Fire Hospitality, having worked in the hospitality and travel industries.

She looks after our clients in the hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants sectors, using that experience to find solutions that suit their business.

GEOVANA COADA is the Back of House Consultant at Fire Hospitality, with a background in both retail and hospitality.

She has worked in numerous roles in restaurants and hotels, in both front and back-of-house roles – including everything from being a kitchen porter, to being a housekeeper and waiting on tables. Geovana can also help sorting DBS-checked staff for roles with a safeguarding requirement.

NICOLA FREEMAN is our Talent Acquisition Manager. Having worked in career information and guidance as well as recruitment, she is an expert in building professional relationships, building on her experience in planning and organisation.

Dealing with the effects of the pandemic on business is an experience something all the senior managers at Fire Hospitality can draw upon.

Having enjoyed phenomenal success in the first two years of supplying temporary and permanent staff in the hospitality and events sectors, the rapid spread of the COVID-19, which tragically killed thousands of people in the UK in 2020 and 2021, and is continuing in the early part of 2022, hit our business just as hard as countless others.

Diversification helped Fire beat the pandemic

Our directors were left with difficult decisions on the best way to ensure Fire Hospitality survived, and just as importantly, continued to provide working opportunities for our scores of staff on our books.

It was in the spring of 2020, that Mike, Anthony, Jadon and I came up with the idea of diversifying Fire’s activities.

We quickly realised that while the hospitality and events industries were facing an immediate lockdown, making it impossible to trade, many people who relied on part-time or temporary work to support their families were not likely to qualify for furlough payments.

That was when the four Fire directors set about setting up Fire Healthcare and Fire Food Chain to meet the recruitment needs in two sectors that were experiencing staffing problems brought about by, not just the pandemic, but also Brexit, resolving some of the teething problems following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Fire Hospitality had to adapt and diversify to survive the pandemic and now we have grown to provide temporary and permanent solutions in the specialised divisions in Healthcare and Food Chain.

Fire Healthcare now provides temporary and permanent solutions to hospitals, care homes, schools and colleges, Government departments and organisations, meeting DBS requirements for staff along the way.

Fire Food Chain provides temporary and permanent solutions to the agriculture, horticulture and food productions sectors, as well as food retailing, including supermarkets and industrial sectors.

Need a Gang Master Licence? We can help

We can also help in sectors where a Gang Master Licence is required.

So whatever your recruitment needs are in hospitality, food and healthcare sectors, strike a light and come over to Fire to find the answers.

We are a warm and friendly bunch – you can learn what our existing customers think about us here.

Rodney Burt

Business Director

Southampton Opening Hours

Week Days 8:30 – 5:00
Saturday 8:30 – 5:00
Sunday 8:30 – 5:00

023 8155 0069


To continually develop and enhance your skills and experience while working with Fire Hospitality.

To lead the way in making Hospitality the profession it should be by offering relevant, accredited and widely-recognised courses.

Fire Hospitality will work to develop your skills, utilising online resources and our in-house training facilities

Find out more

Call 0207 846 0029 or 07842 225322 to find out more – email anthony.blee@firehospitality.com