Firefighter hangs up his helmet after 43 years’ service

After 43 years’ service, the watch manager at Wem fire station hung up his helmet at his final drill session this week.

Philip Smith has been fighting fires as an on-call or 'part-time' firefighter in Wem for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service since 1976.

Incidents such as the Shrewsbury regimental museum explosion in 1992, the Whixall Moss blaze which hit about 50 acres of a National Nature Reserve in north Shropshire and the Cox Chemicals fire are just some of the standout incidents in Philip’s career, where he played an important part in protecting the community he so passionately cares about.

Now, the 63-year-old is looking forward to spending time with his family especially his wife and grandchildren. He said: “I’ve had to dash off to incidents over the years and missed many family occasions, but I have loved every minute of working for the fire service, it’s really been a great life.

“I’ve met people who have become lifetime friends and the comradery has kept me going through ill health, I’ve never missed a day off work – even cancer couldn’t hold me back.

“I’m looking forward to spending time with my wife, she has supported me throughout the years, so I owe her some shopping trips and I’ll be spending time with my grandchildren too.”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Andy Johnson said: “Officers in charge of on-call stations across the county are often thought of as the local ‘Fire Chief’ and no-one deserves such a title more than Phil.  He has always led by example.

“Achieving 43 years in service is an outstanding achievement, bearing in mind the physical and emotional challenges our firefighters experience almost every day and clearly demonstrates Phil’s devotion to the communities that he has served for so long.

“We all wish him a very long, happy and healthy retirement, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, the town of Wem and the wider county are losing a very experienced, professional and very well-respected officer.”

On-call firefighters carry out everyday jobs until a call comes and then become professional firefighters - trained and capable people at the front line, saving lives.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service is always looking for on-call firefighters. They form a crucial part of the Fire Service and come from all walks of life and all ages. If you, or someone you know are up for a new challenge then visit for more details and start your journey today.

5th December, 2019