Monday, 15 April 2013

Fire Commander Bounces Into Retirement After 30 Years

A well-respected fire commander with a wealth of experience has retired after more than 30 years at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS).

Andy Tucker, 50, "fell" into his role as a firefighter while he was looking for another job, but loved it so much that he developed a fully fledged career at the Service, following in the footsteps of his father.

Father-of-two Andy, from Hardwick, said: "I sort of fell into the service while I was looking what I called 'a proper job' as a marine cartographer (someone who maps the floor of the ocean). But I liked it so much that I stayed.

"It was an exciting job. The buzz was always going out to the incidents and dealing with the people and the fires."

After starting his career at Cambridge station in 1982, Andy served in numerous roles across the county, including positions at Cambridge, Dogsthorpe, Ely and Huntingdon, climbing the ranks from firefighter to station commander. He then moved into the Service's Prevention team working as a Risk Manager and, at some point, covered every district in Cambridgeshire.

Alongside other roles, he was a Fire Investigation officer, Hazardous Material and Environment officer, part of the regional response team for Detection, Identification and Monitoring, and was also a supervisory officer for many of the Service's on-call fire stations including Burwell, Linton, Cottenham and Ely.

Yesterday, (Sunday, April 14) he officially retired from his role as Risk Manager for Cambridge, East Cambs and South Cambs.

The most memorable incident Andy attended was a fire at Spiller's Mill, opposite Cambridge train station, in March 2010. "It was the largest fire I've ever been to. I remember driving along the road and seeing this fire in the distance and thinking 'Oh my, this is going to be an all-nighter' - and it was," he said.

"The flames were coming out of the turrets and there were embers everywhere. It resembled something like the blitz."

His father Tommy Tucker was a firefighter at Cambridge and although the two never served on the same watch, as Andy's career progressed he would often find himself as Incident Commander - putting him in charge of his father.

Andy said: "The first day I turned up at my dad's station wearing my new, crisp officer's uniform, my dad came up to me, screwed up my epaulets and gave me a friendly grasp around the face and said 'I've always wanted to do that to an officer'! I think he was proud of me."

Andy said he was thankful his wife Lesley and their two daughters Paige, 20, and Tate, 16, were deep sleepers after the many years of his pager going off in the middle of night.

Now he is retired, Andy, who is a county level trampoline judge, is hoping to become a coach for the sport. His two daughters are involved with Cambourne Comets Trampoline Club and he said he is looking forward to dedicating more time to the sport. He will also take on a non-operational role within the Service, working part time as a Health and Safety Coordinator.

Rick Hylton, Area Commander at CFRS, said: "Andy has always been willing to go the extra mile to make sure the job in hand is done properly and was always willing to challenge the organisation regarding things he felt passionate about.

"He has covered many roles in both fire prevention and protection within the organisation and has vast knowledge in specialist areas including hazardous materials.

"The Service, together with many of our partner agencies, will greatly miss Andy and his wealth of experience and would like to thank him for his years of dedication to the Cambridgeshire community."