Those are the words of Crew Manager Richard Hubbard who is the longest-serving on call fire fighter in Gnosall, ahead of his retirement next month.
Richard, who joined Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service in 1980 as a fire fighter, before being promoted to Crew Manager in 1996, is due to retire on 31 August after a total of 41 years and eight months in post.
Reflecting on his time in the service, Richard said: “There have been so many changes for the good over the years – the equipment is so much better, all the appliances are much improved and people’s awareness of the dangers of fire in the home has increased significantly, as a result of the introduction of safe-and-well checks.
“When I started, in the first year we had 529 calls.
“We now, thankfully, only get around 70 to 100.”
Throughout his career, Richard has juggled his full-time job as a warehouse manager with his fire service role and family life.
“I think it takes a certain type of person to be able to become an on call fire fighter,” Richard said.
“You have to be out-going, willing to do the job to the best of your ability at all times and happy to serve your community.
“It has been a huge commitment but it’s been well-worth it for helping the Gnosall and surrounding areas, making sure everyone is safe and knowing you’re doing your bit for the people you serve.”
When I was asked if I would like to sign-up, I said: ‘I’ll give it a go’ and it’s kept me on the go for 41 years.
Over the years, Richard has received a total of four awards for his work with the fire service, including a long-service award that was handed to him by the then Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire in 2000.
“I ended up having a billboard with my face on in the village, that was a surprise!” Richard said.
Now, Richard hopes to spend more time with his family, after a few final drinks with his crew, of course.
“I think it will be a big adjustment for me, but I have enjoyed every minute of it,” Richard said.
He hopes his retirement will encourage others to consider joining the fire service as an on call fire fighter.
“I would say to anyone thinking about joining - just go for it, you’ll love it and the sense of satisfaction you’ll get will be second-to-none.
“When I was asked if I would like to sign-up, I said: ‘I’ll give it a go’ and it’s kept me on the go for 41 years.
“I’m tremendously proud of everything that I’ve been able to achieve through the fire service, but most of all, I’m proud to have served the community I live in, to have got to know everyone and to have helped people when they needed help the most.”
To find out more about becoming a retained fire fighter, visit: https://www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/careers/on-call-firefighters/
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