Thirty two years to the day since joining the fire service in Forfar, watch manager Alan Shepherd bade a fond farewell to his colleagues.
On Wednesday Alan (52) was presented with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of his sterling service, and his crew colleagues presented him with an engraved decanter.
It was a chance conversation with colleague Barry Greenhill at Alex Adamson and Son in 1981 that led Alan to his first training night. He then moved from firefighter, leading firefighter, sub officer and temporary station manager to watch manager.
Alan said: “During the early years the incidents were different natured from what we deal with today. We were called out to chip pan fires on a regular basis and quite severe house fires were commonplace. Today most dwellings are fitted with smoke detectors. The biggest fire we had to deal with was the Regal Cinema in 1988 when we managed to save the buildings on either side.”
The introduction of seat belts and air bags also had an effect on road traffic collisions and now the retained firefighters play an important role in the community promoting fire prevention. Alan’s role in the service saw him change careers to work firstly at Dundee Airport as a firefighter and then to his present position of crew commander at Aberdeen Airport fire service.
Being on call 24/7, 365 days a year and attending on average 280 calls a year, he said a special thank you to his parents and to his wife, Lesley, for all their commitment and support: “I’ve had to leave Christmas dinners and Lesley with the shopping at the supermarket when I’ve been called out. I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family - Laura, Ashley and Matthew and my three grandchildren. The station is left in the safe hands of Roy King and I wish all past colleagues best wishes for the future.”