Dedicated Staffordshire firefighter to hang up helmet after three decades of service

After three decades of serving the communities of Staffordshire, station manager Gary Fox is preparing to hang up his helmet.

Learning & Development trainers in 2008 (Gary is back row, centre)
Learning & Development trainers in 2008 (Gary is back row, centre)

On Sunday, January 16, 31 years after his inaugural day, Gary will walk out of the headquarters for the last time.

The veteran firefighter said: “I can’t quite believe it. I’m so thankful that the service saw something in me at the start – a 19-year-old lad with very little life experience. It really gave me a chance.”

Gary enrolled in November 1990, setting him on the course to pursue his dream of becoming a firefighter.

He said: “It’s no secret though that I found the course difficult in the beginning. I was actually put on a two-week notice period originally as I wasn’t meeting the required standard.

“It takes perseverance though, and thanks to the support of the recruits and instructors I was able to get through and complete the training.”

Gary then began his career as part of Blue Watch in Stafford in March 1991.

“The Watch were absolutely brilliant at supporting new recruits and I truly believe that the six-and-a-half-years I spent there probably set me up for the rest of my career,” Gary said.

Blue Watch Stafford 1991 (Gary is back row, second from the left)

During his service, Gary attended countless incidents across Staffordshire.

He said: “Whilst I was on Red Watch Stafford, we were called to reports of a 14-year-old boy who was stuck up a tree. He had been climbing with friends and had reached 100 foot, before getting anxious and becoming stuck.

“The whole thing took three hours but luckily we managed to rescue him without injury. It ended up being reported by the national press.”

“I also recall one New Years’ Eve being spent in the cage of a Hydraulic Platform in Longton.”

He added: “I’ve honestly learned from every incident I have attended.

“Some of the jobs I’ve been to have not gone according to plan but my training always taught me to prepare for failure”.

But, for his final day, Gary will be returning to where it all started – at Blue Watch in Stafford.

He said: “There are still colleagues there who I worked with a few years ago, so I think it’s only fitting that I round off an incredible 31 years there before I say goodbye.

“I am immensely proud to have been a firefighter within Staffordshire and I am so grateful to have been able to work with our communities and so many fantastic colleagues across the service.

“I am really going to miss it.”

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