Two school friends recently celebrated 40 years of on-call firefighting with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Martin Claydon, 61, and Philip Hubbard, 59, were presented with a framed certificate and glass flame award, in front of the whole crew, by Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland at their station in Burwell.
Both Martin and Philip joined in 1976 when Burwell Fire Station first opened. They, along with ten other on-call firefighters, were recruited at the same time from a local factory that manufactured cardboard boxes.
Martin said: “It has been great to be celebrated for serving as a firefighter. What has made it extra special is being able to celebrate with the whole crew.
“Twelve of us started at the same time but Philip and I are the only two of the original twelve left.”
As well as working together, Martin, from Burwell, and Philip, from Swaffham Prior, also went to the same school.
Philip added: “Martin and I did knock about together at school and also worked together, so I know him very well and he has been a good ally over the years.”
Father-of-two Martin, who owns his own car hire company, wanted to join the Service because it was different.
He said: “I worked in an office at the time and was looking for a bit of adrenaline. I also liked the fact it was quite random as sometimes they’d be nothing, other times you’d be really busy.
“One of the funniest memories I recall was a job when I didn’t have time to put on work overalls under my uniform as the crew needed to leave immediately. The uniform included a pair of yellow plastic trousers with a hole cut in the pocket. It was really snowy that day so by the time I had finished that particular job, I had snow in my boots and my feet were freezing. When we returned to the station, some of the tiles had come off the roof, creating a vortex in the building, so my trousers were swirling about inside the station.”
Another funny memory was when the crew helped round up some horses that were running loose in Cambridge.
Martin added: “It wasn’t until we called control and gave them our location by the Hoofers pub that we realised how funny it was. The girls in control were killing themselves laughing.”
Philip, who also has two children, said he has some very special memories of the fire service because of how supportive it was when his youngest daughter was ill seven years ago. Then aged 11, she had a condition called Aplasia, which meant she needed a bone marrow transplant.
He said: “The Service found out and there were firefighters turning up all over the county to take a blood test to see if they were compatible. I was allowed three months off so I could visit my daughter in hospital after her transplant. Everyone was really supportive.”
Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “Serving for 40 years is such a unique achievement and to have two members of staff from the same station is extra special.
“Being an on-call firefighter requires a lot of commitment, from both staff and their families. I want to thank both Martin and Philip, and their families for their amazing support over the years.”