The UK’s longest serving firefighter from Shropshire is to be recognised for his distinguished service.
Roger Smith (69), a former mayor of Market Drayton, has been a member of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service for a record 47 years.
He has been awarded the High Sheriff’s Good Citizen’s Award for his “substantial contribution” to society and for making “a significant difference” to the safety and well being of his local community.
Roger, whose two sons are also firefighters, will receive his prestigious award on Monday, June 2, at a firefighter and fire and rescue staff awards ceremony at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn attended by High Sheriff Roger Bland and the Lord Lieutenant Sir Algernon Heber Percy.
Roger joined Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service on March 14, 1967, starting his career at the old fire station in Prospect Road, Market Dayton. Progressing through the ranks, he was promoted to Leading Firefighter in 1972, Sub Officer in 1983 and took command of the station on January 1, 2008.
“It’s unbelievable how the years have gone by but it has been a very enjoyable experience. I’ve met an awful lot of people and been to thousands of fires and other incidents, too many to remember,” said Roger.
He said his wife Margaret had “lost count” of the number of spoilt meals which had ended up in the bin.
Roger is still officer in charge at Market Drayton fire station where he is on reduced duties after undergoing a major operation.
“I’m on modified duties but still officer in charge and doing all the paperwork. I’m not operational until I get back to full fitness,” said Roger.
Chief Fire Officer John Redmond said: “He has dedicated 47 years to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and is believed to be the longest current serving firefighter in the UK.
“Roger has made a direct impact on the quality of life in the local community both as an active member of the organisation, saving lives from fire, road traffic collisions and numerous other rescues, while also changing and improving the well being of many in his role as a councillor.”
During his long career he attended many serious incidents including the Tern Hill Barracks Bombing in 1989, Cox’s Chemicals fire and both of the COD Donnington fires. Roger said the most "intense" fire he had ever attended was a six pump incident in 2011 involving miscanthus "elephant" grass in Sutton Farm which resulted in Roger and the crew being featured in BBC’s Real Rescues programme. (see image below)
Elected to Market Drayton Town Council in 2004, Roger has been an active town councillor and was appointed deputy Mayor in 2009 and also had the distinction of becoming an Honorary Townsman. In 2010 he was elected town Mayor, following in the footsteps of his father who was the town’s first Mayor in 1974.
Married to Margaret for nearly 43 years, the couple have run a successful family electric business in the town for 41 years. Their two sons, Mark and Paul, are both firefighters with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Mark, a crew manager at Market Drayton fire station, will also be a recipient at the ceremony being one of 13 to receive Long Service and Good Conduct Medals from the Lord Lieutenant.
* Shropshire’s Alfred Thompson was also the longest serving UK firefighter, joining the Shropshire brigade aged 16 (while Queen Victoria was on the throne) and serving in Whitchurch for a record 57 years until his death aged 73 .