Firefighters are the best

Still on duty and with 80 years service between them are award winning Shropshire firefighters Mick Howe and Roger Smith

Firefighters and their families have been praised for helping to make Shropshire one of the best performing fire services in the UK.

Fire authority chairman Nigel Hartin thanked wives and family members for their support which contributed towards firefighters doing "such a wonderful job."

He was speaking at the brigade's annual ceremony to present Long Service and Good Conduct Medals to 24 firefighters and their wives and partners at the Shrewsbury fire HQ and attended by the Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff.

"We are one of the very best performing fire authorities in the country and I want to thank everyone very much indeed. Firefighters do a wonderful job for us in Shropshire and they wouldn't be able to do this without family support."

Oswestry firefighter Alan Walker, 37, who gave up his spare time to work with adults at the Derwen training centre in Gobowen received the High Sheriff Good Citizen Award. Alan, who has helped fit 1,000 smoke alarms into Oswestry homes gave fire safety advice to the college and worked with students who grew flowers from seed to decorate Oswestry fire station's hanging baskets and floral displays which later received a gold award from the council.

Sub Officer Roger Smith is the second firefighter from Market Drayton to receive the extremely rare 40 years service award. He also gained the Chief Fire Officer's Service Award.

"Roger is a very able leader and has forged numerous links with the local community being particularly proactive in taking forward fire safety initiatives in the community. He is enthusiastic in his job and commands a station staff that are well motivated," said Chief Fire Officer Alan Taylor.

"The normal retirement age is 55 so serving for 40 years is very rare but to have two firefighters reach such service and both from Market Drayton is truly amazing."

He also praised Roger's wife Margaret for her support and understanding despite throwing away many meals during emergency calls over the past 40 years.

The fire chief thanked all the "long suffering" wives and partners for supporting firefighters in what was sometimes "a very dangerous occupation" and for putting up with years of not knowing if they were safe. Eight of them received miniature medals.

A total of 13 firefighters and one fire control officer received awards for 20 years service from the Lord Lieutenant Algernon Heber Percy who praised them for their "hugely important" service.

Mr Taylor added: "They are only doing the job they love which brings them a great deal of satisfaction. But don't knock it and just remember how many people are alive in Shropshire today who may not have been alive if it wasn't for their hard work, dedication and bravery."

The Telent Charity Shield was also presented to a team of eleven fire service personnel who raised £6,000 during a 1,000 mile, three day charity cycle from John O'Groats to Lands End in aid of the Fire Service National Benevolent Fund, Hope House and local Macmillan Cancer Relief.

Alan Walker receives the High Sheriff Good Citizen Award from High Sheriff Richard Tanner

23rd March, 2007