A Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) firefighter who has spent over 40 years protecting the community of Ramsbury has finally hung up his uniform!
Chris Martin joined the then Wiltshire Fire Brigade on 3 October 1979 as a 24-year-old on-call firefighter and is leaving as the longest-serving firefighter in the county. He has been Watch Manager in charge of Ramsbury fire station since January 1990 and now, aged 66, he is retiring, with his last day of service on 31 July.
Sadly, due to the on-going challenges of Covid-19, a formal presentation to Chris to mark his retirement has been postponed until later in the year, but colleagues from Ramsbury marked the occasion on his last drill night on 26 July.
The fire service has always been a family concern to Chris – his grandad was a firefighter in Salisbury during the Blitz, and all three of his brothers have been firefighters at some stage. Four of his nephews are also firefighters, either in DWFRS or Royal Berkshire FRS, and Chris’s sons are continuing the tradition within DWFRS – Adam joined in 1998 and is now a Station Manager, working in the Assets department, and Jeremy joined in 2003 and is an on-call firefighter at Ramsbury.
During his career, Chris has attended some highly notable incidents, including the Marlborough High Street fires of 1993 and 1998, the fire at Windsor Castle in November 1992, and the 51-vehicle crash on the M4 in March 1991, in which ten people died.
His dedication to the Ramsbury community, and maintaining the availability of a fire crew within the parish, saw him praised by HRH The Prince of Wales when they met in 2017.
In addition, Chris was proud to be awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours List at the end of last year, and he received this from the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton, at a presentation held at County Hall in April.
Throughout his career, Chris has juggled his fire service commitments with his ‘day job’ as a painter/decorator. On many occasions he has had to down brushes and leave a customer’s house to respond to his pager!
He said: “It does seem strange to be leaving the Service after so many years, but the time is right. Being an on-call firefighter is a huge commitment, and my wife Linda and the rest of my family have made it possible for me to continue for as long as I have. I am incredibly grateful to them, and also to all the firefighters who have supported the Ramsbury community over the years. Being able to help people is a real privilege, and I hope to see more new recruits coming forward to keep local people safe for years to come.”
Anyone interested in joining the crew at Ramsbury can find out more here