RETIRED firefighter Simon Wellerd put pen to paper to reflect on a career in the Lancashire fire service spanning more than 30 years.
Simon, who was based in Chorley during his career, says he leaves with some very fond memories and having met some wonderful people and friends.
He said: “I joined Lancashire County Fire Brigade as it was then on May, 15, 1978, and did three months training at Washington Hall in
“I was quite unprepared for the training that was to come. I thought it would be a breeze.
“After being issued with kit it was down to the brigade barber. I asked ‘to keep it long at the back and just over the ears at the sides’ – no it was the regulation brigade cut very short back and sides.
“I had never heard of ‘bulling shoes to mirrored finish’ and ‘razor’ creases in shirts, pants, and jackets, room inspections at 7.30 in the mornings daily.
“After three months of intensive training I was given my first posting, Blackburn which I knew nothing about except the Cavendish nightclub (which burnt down) and later Peppermint Palace.
“On my first day, I was taken to the station commander who read my notes and noted that I was a time-served joiner after leaving school.
“I was given the keys to the joiner’s shop and for the first week of my
career I didn’t turn out to any “jobs” but spent my time fixing doors, windows and all the jobs which had been neglected for the past few years.
“After serving my two year
probation I was sent on an HGV course to drive the tenders.
“To establish yourself as a driver to your peers you had to beat Great Harwood tender to Langho colony near Whalley.
“My chance came about three in the morning one winter’s night as I left Blackburn driving the ‘old number 10’ – a six cylinder Rolls Royce engined original borough
“I travelled over the tops through Wilpshire and on the way down to Langho where I spotted the blue lights of the Great Harwood tender. I knew that the first to reach the roundabout would get to Langho first.
“Wrestling with the huge wooden steering wheel I just managed to get to the roundabout seconds before Great Harwood.
“Later on the way back one of the old timers walks past me and says “Thy did all reet there lad”, which is about good as it gets.
“After serving six years at Blackburn and brief detached spells at Burnley, Accrington, Bacup and Rawtenstall, it was off to my new posting at Chorley. “Chorley was a lot smaller station, but still responded to roughly 1,000 incidents a year, so we were kept busy most of the time.
“At one stage we were experiencing a number of false calls on nights and turned out late one Saturday night thinking here we go again, as we turned right onto Pall Mall to see an orange glow over Chorley. Chortex mill was well ablaze.
“The moors over Rivington were a constant turn out during the summer months, which lasted for days on end they were simple enough to deal with, but you were constantly aware that the wind could change at any time and you could end up fleeing as fast as possible for safe cover.
“On October 28, 1987, I responded in a light rescue vehicle to an incident on the M61 motorway.
“It was one of the worst accidents on the M61 and an incident that will live with me forever.
“It is with the help of your colleagues who you trust and build up a strong friendship with that you help each other through the many difficult
experiences you encounter.
“After having brief detached spells at Preston, Leyland, Skelmserdale and Ormskirk, I was posted to where it all began at Washington Hall.
“I finished my career at Washington Hall and finished on March 31, 2012.
“After 33 years as I look back on my career it is with great fondness and pride that the service I have given to the people of Lancashire. I have met many remarkable people and
colleagues that remain friends for life.
“As for the future, well I now face one of my biggest challenges yet . . . to find a job.”