Monday, 28 October 2013

Dedicated Firefighter Is Recognised For 30 Years' Service

Thirty years of jumping out of bed in the middle of the night and fighting fires has been "all for the community" for one firefighter who has received a long-service award.

Alan Baker was presented with his award at Linton Fire Station on Wednesday (October 23) for completing 30 years of service as a firefighter at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service¿s on-call station.

The 59-year-old architectural technician joined the Service after moving to Linton from nearby Ashdon in 1983, and has experienced many incidents and seen numerous changes in the 30 years.

When Alan joined the Service, it was "all yellow plastic over trousers, heavy thick fire tunics and a helmet made of cork" - a far cry from the top quality firefighting kit of today.

About his role as an on-call firefighter, he said: "What I like about the job is you just do not know what to expect when the bells go down. It is varied to the extreme. It might be an automatic fire alarm in a factory or it could be anything from a road traffic collision with persons trapped or a house fire with persons reported.

"It is a great job that for me has become a serious hobby. We are a group of guys who have trades outside of the fire service and the fire service benefits from these trades at certain times when we are at an incident, whether that trade is building construction, plumbing or computing.

"The way I see it, is there are no firefighters in Linton - but two electricians, one alarm engineer, one airport firefighter, one computer engineer, one shop assistant, one house husband, one night shift worker, one building contractor and one architectural technician, who attended 87 calls last year to help keep their community safe."

The father-of-two grown-up children fits his on-call firefighting around his architectural work and home life and said his friends and partner Heather, who also gets woken up when his alerter goes off at 3am for a job, are incredibly flexible.

Alan, of Back Road, said: "During my 30 years as a firefighter I have attended so many incidents it is impossible to count. There have been thatch fires, house fires, rescued people from house fires and released people from road traffic collisions.

"But I will always remember working with a friend, Nigel Darling, who is sadly no longer with us, on a fire at Foxton Hall. We had been in the job about six years and we went in to the building wearing breathing apparatus to help extinguish a fire in the roof on the first floor. We were trying to pull the ceiling down for about 15 minutes. We stopped to take a rest and we both stepped back to stand in a wide doorway. Literally seconds later the whole ceiling dropped down in front of us.

"Above all, we are serving the community in which we live. I prefer to say `helping' rather than `serving' because we are a fire and rescue service and our community only call us when they need our help; but I am sure they feel safer knowing we are there in case they need us."

And Alan doesn't intend on hanging up his fire boots yet. He explained: "When my alerter goes off at some unearthly time of the night I still jump out of bed, pull on my jeans, slide my feet into a pair trainers, grab a t-shirt and as I run downstairs, check that I have a sock in each pocket - no socks means blisters and you don't want that - and get to the fire station as soon as I can.

"The time I will give up is that time when my alerter goes off and I stop to look at the clock to see what the time is."

The 30-year award was presented to Alan at the station's drill night by Area Commander Maurice Moore, who himself started out his own career in Linton.

Maurice added: "These days, it is exceptional for on-call firefighters to complete 30 years service to the community. It requires real commitment and dedication with modern day pressures to serve this length of time at a fire station. We commend Alan for his service and dedication to the people of his community."