Suffolk fire chief John Tiffen looks forward to new chapter after 30 years of service

John Tiffen, group commander at Lowestoft South Fire Station has retired from the fire service after

John Tiffen, group commander at Lowestoft South Fire Station has retired from the fire service after 30 years. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

He has helped to save lives, overseen major incidents and introduced the co-responding scheme in Lowestoft.

John Tiffen, group commander at Lowestoft South Fire Station has retired from the fire service after

John Tiffen, group commander at Lowestoft South Fire Station has retired from the fire service after 30 years. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

But now one of Suffolk's most senior firefighters is looking forward to 'the next chapter' after 30 years in the fire service.

Group Commander John Tiffen retired yesterday – but instead of taking a deserved step back in his retirement, he is preparing for a brand new challenge.

Mr Tiffen, from Lowestoft, is preparing to cycle 350-miles in five days across the First World War battlefields to raise thousands of pounds in memory of fallen soldiers.

He said: 'In June 23, 1987, I joined Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service as a 22-year-old, starting in Lowestoft as a firefighter. It has been a great career – the fire service has been my life for the past 30 years, but now I'm looking forward to the next chapter.'


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After leaving school and joining the Royal Marines in 1982, Mr Tiffen took part in two arctic winters in Norway, a tour of Northern Ireland and a year on-board HMS Endurance, spending four months in Antarctica.

Reflecting on his time in the brigade, the father-of-two added: 'When I look back on my time in the service it has been a time I have thoroughly enjoyed. That ability to help someone, to change a situation, it is satisfying to have known we have all helped and been able to make a difference.'

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As well as being a firefighter, Mr Tiffen has been a crew commander, watch commander and has overseen numerous high-profile projects for the brigade. In 2005, he was made the north division Group Commander and was also the lead on water rescue for the service.

In December 2015, Mr Tiffen was sent to Cumbria as the only Suffolk officer to join the rescue operation in assisting with the national fire service's response to the flooding.

Last October a co-responding scheme between the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service was launched – with Mr Tiffen involved with introducing the life-saving partnership.

He said: 'The fire service is more than a job, its a family. Being part of the fire service is a lot more than coming to work.'

Big Battlefield Bike Ride

For the past 30 years John Tiffen has raised money for The Fire Fighters Charity.

But later this year, as he embarks on the Big Battlefield Bike Ride, Mr Tiffen will be raising funds for Help for Heroes.

In September he will cycle 350-miles in five days across the First World War battlefields in memory of the fallen soldiers, while cycling alongside currently wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, who are being supported by the charity.

The Big Battlefield Bike Ride will see more than 250 cyclists take part in an 'iconic ride' from Lille in France to Arnhem in the Netherlands – passing through Waterloo then following the 1944 route of the Allied Forces towards Arnhem.

Mr Tiffen said: 'The 350-mile cycle ride will be a personal challenge for me, but not as big as that faced daily by our injured personnel.'

You can support Mr Tiffen and donate to the cause via www.justgiving.com/fundraising/John-Tiffen

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