Roger Smith - A UK Record Breaking Firefighter

Roger Smith is the UKs longest serving firefighter


The longest serving current firefighter in the UK is to retire from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service after a record 48 year career.

Roger Smith (70), a former mayor of Market Drayton, has been fighting fires since 1967 and “hangs up his helmet” at a final drill session at Market Drayton fire station.

North Shropshire holds the record for firefighters with long service. Alfred Thompson, from Whitchurch, goes down in history as the longest serving UK firefighter of all time. He joined the Shropshire brigade as a 16-year-old, while Queen Victoria was on the throne, serving for a record 57 years until his death aged 73.

Friends and family will celebrate Roger’s record service on Friday, May 29 at 7.30pm at the Royal British Legion, Church Street, Market Drayton when colleagues past and present will also attend. The family firefighting tradition will continue as both sons, Mark and Paul, are also Shropshire firefighters.

BBC’s The One Show is planning to feature Roger in a TV broadcast outside Windsor Castle along with a number of people with similar long serving careers on Friday, May 15.

“I am apparently the longest serving living firefighter in the country although I am a bit disappointed as I did want to get to 50 years. But due to my health, it’s time to retire.

“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, who has been officer in charge at Market Drayton for the past seven years.

He said his wife Margaret had lost count of the number of spoilt meals which had ended up in the bin.

Recognised for his distinguished service in 2014, Roger received 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.

After joining Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service on March 14, 1967, he started 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.

Chief Fire Officer John Redmond said: “We salute Roger for his long and dedicated service which has spanned almost half a century.

“Roger stands out for his loyal and distinguished career. It is a truly remarkable achievement to serve for that length of time.

“He is a credit to the fire and rescue service for everything he has done for his community both as a firefighter turning out at all times of the day and night to deal with an emergency and also while serving as a councillor and mayor for Market Drayton. We wish him well in his retirement.”

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 was in charge when Miscanthus grass burst into flames at a farm resulting in one of the county’s fiercest blazes which needed six fire appliances in attendance.

The dramatic event was later featured with Roger and the crew in a BBC’s Real Rescues programme.

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 44 years, the couple ran a successful family electric business in the town for 41 years.

*Pictures: Market Drayton firefighters applaud Roger's long career. Pictured with sons Mark (left) and Paul (right)

Roger Smith was officer in charge of the Market Drayton crew called to deal with this huge ball of fire of "elephant grass" in 2011

Roger (centre) said there had been many changes since he joined the fire service in Shropshire in 1967

Roger is interviewed by the BBCs Phil Mackie today for a story which was aired on both national and local news and viewed by millions across the globe

13th May, 2015