It was the end of an era for Biggleswade fire station when Watch commander Eddie Wing retired after nearly 44 years’ service.
He celebrated his retirement from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service with colleagues and visitors on Monday, January 26.
He joined the retained service in 1974 at 16 after his sister had visited the station as a girl guide and thought it would be something he would enjoy doing.
For at least 23 years of this time he was the watch commander managing the station and fire fighters.
Over the years he has attended many fires such as the major fire at Bedford School in 1979, been to many road accidents and helped to rescue a variety of animals.
For 20 years he also looked after Bedfordshire’s working steam fire engine which has been seen in full steam at Stotfold Mill events many times and various other events round the country.
Once asked what the highlight of his job was, Eddie said: “The feeling of help you give to people and to help reassure them when they have been through a very tough time. We provide them with some comfort and support and that’s what makes you want to carry on.”
Eddie has cherished the people he works alongside and believes the teamwork aspect of the job is critical.
Eddie once said the thing he most disliked about the job is the lack of sleep.
He said: “After the adrenaline rush of a fire it is hard to get back to sleep.
In the winter this becomes even worse as you’re not only wide awake but you’re freezing cold as well.”
When Eddie started with the service he had to clean all of the brass equipment and haul the hose up the drill tower to be dried preventing the canvas from rotting.
Nowadays there is no brass as things are aluminium, and the fire service simply wind up the hose until it is required for use again.