Watch Manager at Chatteris Fire Station celebrates retirement after 35 years of being on-call

A MAN who has proudly fought blazes for 35 years, alongside full-time firefighters, celebrated his retirement at a special party on Saturday.

Mike Allen, Watch Manager at Chatteris Fire Station, joined around 50 friends, family and colleagues to commemorate his dedicated service as a retained firefighter.

Mr Allen, who also works as an IT network co-ordinator at QV Foods in March, has been a paid employee of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service since the age of 23 and became watch manager in 1990.

“I remember my first 999 call quite clearly,” he said.

“We got call to a fish and chip shop in the High Street. A man was laying plastic tiles using a big pot of glue, which was highly flammable, and had decided to keep himself warm with a gas heater.

“Obviously it wasn’t long before the whole place caught fire. We tackled the fire from the outside but needed to go inside to extinguish the rest. The door was stuck so I nominated to go through the window.

“As I put my foot down it went straight into the pot of glue and I couldn’t get it out. I had to extinguish the rest of the fire with the pot of glue still on my foot!”

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Retained firefighters attend the same emergency incidents as full-time firefighters and Mr Allen admits he always loved his job despite spending countless hours on call.

He said: “It’s very rewarding and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.

“I wouldn’t have stayed for 35 years if not. It is demanding and a commitment but the sense of pride and the knowledge that you’re giving something back to your community has made it worthwhile.

“I’ve worked with some absolutely wonderful people over the years. I’m really sad to be leaving but would like to thank Lesley (wife) and my two children for being so supportive and enabling me to do a job that I loved.

Gavin Hammond, Station Manager for Chatteris Fire Station praised Mr Allen’s excellent service.

He said: “Mike is a credit to himself, his family and the service.

“His commitment has been phenomenal and the enthusiasm and passion that he has shown for the job has never faltered.”

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