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Firefighter calls it a day after 47 years of service

By Alan Beresford

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A FOCHABERS firefighter has hung up his helmet for the last time after nearly 50 years serving his local community.

Firefighter Stuart Jenkins calls it a day after almost 50 years as a retained firefighter at Fochabers. Picture: Fochabers fire station
Firefighter Stuart Jenkins calls it a day after almost 50 years as a retained firefighter at Fochabers. Picture: Fochabers fire station

Retained firefighter Stuart Jenkins (66) has called it a day after a grand total 47 years and two months helping keeping people safe.

His long career has seen him serve under no fewer than four different brigades – North Eastern, Grampian Fire Service, Grampian Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – while not straying so much as an inch from Fochabers fire station .

He has also seen at least 10 firemasters come and go during the last five decades.

The painter decorator, who retired from his job just over a year ago, was just 19 when he first signed up for the fire brigade.

"I was the youngest on the crew at the time and like the rest of them I worked in the village," he said.

"It was a family friend, sub officer Horne at the fire station who asked me to join and I signed up on November 1, 1973.

"I just took to it, maybe I had a wee advantage with my job as a painter when it came to getting up and down ladders.

"It's been very satisfying serving the community but most the time you just get on with it, you plod on and get the job done. We've always got on well as a crew down the years, it's like a family."

Nothing stands still and the fire service has been no exception. The biggest changes for Mr Jenkins have been the equipment provided to firefighters.

He continued: "The gear we've been provided with keeps getting better and better.

"When I started all you got was a cork hat, a black jacket, leggings and boots but the stuff now is state-of-the-art and keeps improving all the time."

With nearly 50 years of service under his belt Mr Jenkins has seen a a good many different types of emergencies. However, the most memorable was not in Moray or even the north-east, but in fact at Lerwick.

He recalled: "The fire was aboard this Russian klondyker, a fish factory ship, which had tied up at Lerwick.

"I went up there with some boys from Buckie to join the crews from Highland Brigade.

"We reckoned the fire started because some of the crew had been smoking in the paper store. Whatever caused it, the fire had a right hold when we got there, the heat and smoke were terrible.

"All the time we were there we never saw the Russian captain of the ship except for when he came down and told us that we could shut the hold up, everything was OK. It kept flaring up, though, and we had to go back in again.

"We were lucky that the klondyker's sister ship was in Lerwick at the same time so we had the chance to get an idea of the layout before we went in to fight the fire.

"That was quite a weekend, I can tell you!"

While Mr Jenkins my not be on the crew any more, he will not have to go far to stay in touch – he stays just across the road from the fire station.

Tribute to Mr Jenkins' stalwart service was paid by Fochabers fire station crew commander Dave Crawford.

He said: "Stuart's local knowledge and experience in fire fighting will be greatly missed on the fire ground and drill yard.

"He'll will miss being in the fire service but one thing he won’t miss will be the 2am call-outs.

"We would also like to acknowledge Stuart’s wife Pat and family who share in his 47 years' service. No more spoiled meals or trips cancelled at the last minute.

"Due to recent Covid restrictions, we are unable to celebrate this fantastic achievement at the moment, however hopefully in the near future, colleagues, friends and family will be able to raise a glass to Stuart.

"We wish Stuart and family a happy new year and a well deserved retirement. Stay safe."

Fochabers fire station are always keen to hear from people who are interested in joining the team. For more information, either message via their Facebook page or visit www.firescotland.gov.uk

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