Retained firefighter retires after 40 years

Hunstanton Retained Fire Fighter Gerry Desroches has retired after a 40 year career. Picture: Paul

Hunstanton Retained Fire Fighter Gerry Desroches has retired after a 40 year career. Picture: Paul Tibbs. - Credit: Paul Tibbs

Gerry Desroches, from Hunstanton, has attended some of the area's most memorable blazes over the years - and is now urging others to also join the service.

Hunstanton Retained Fire Fighter Gerry Desroches (front centre) has retired after a 40 year career.

Hunstanton Retained Fire Fighter Gerry Desroches (front centre) has retired after a 40 year career. Picture: Paul Tibbs.

Among the hundreds of incidents he has attended include the Hunstanton Pier blaze in 2002 and the Travis & Arnold timber yard in King's Lynn in 1989.

And while reflecting on his days as a firefighter, he has also appealed for potential recruits to join the retained service.

Mr Desroches, 69, of Homefields Road said: 'Retirement seems really strange - I keep looking for my pager for the next call. I'm really going to miss being part of the crew.

'Of course, retained firefighters also handle very difficult situations, but it is an incredibly rewarding role.'

Smoke still rising from the remains of Hunstanton Pier following the fire early on saturday morning.

Smoke still rising from the remains of Hunstanton Pier following the fire early on saturday morning. 18.05.02 - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant


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The electrician added: 'I couldn't have done it without my wife Ann's support.'

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting retained firefighters. Recruits receive training and can also work towards other qualifications such as first aid certificates and HGV driving licences.

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Neil Richardson, station manager for King's Lynn, said: 'We're looking for enthusiastic individuals who would be willing to give something back to their communities and earn extra money in the process.

'We are recruiting on-call firefighters at various fire stations and would invite anyone interested to call me.'

Fire at Travis and Arnold's timber yard in King's Lynn June 1989.

Fire at Travis and Arnold's timber yard in King's Lynn June 1989. - Credit: Archant

• Anyone interested should call Mr Richardson on 07919 492223. Further details are on the recruitment area of the website.

• Have you worked the same job for a long time? Email louise.hepburn@archant.co.uk

The most memorable events

During his 40 years as a retained fireman, Mr Desroches has fought some of west Norfolk's most memorable blazes.

He said the two key events that stood out were the Hunstanton Pier fire in 2002 and the Travis and Arnold's King's Lynn timber yard in 1989.

Only the skeleton of Hunstanton Pier remained following the devastating blaze which happened just before the start of the summer holiday season.

More than 60 firefighters from across Norfolk and Lincolnshire tackled the fire which sent huge clouds of black smoke billowing out to sea and caused damaged estimated at more than £1m.

The Travis and Arnold blaze was considered to be the county's biggest fire in 25 years when the timber yard at King's Lynn's Bentinck dock went up in flames, the EDP reported at the time.

Mr Desroches was among the 421 firefighters who were mobilised from across East Anglia - around half attended the scene at the height of the fire. It then caused approximately £2m in damage.

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