Dedicated firefighter Graham Morland says farewell to Romford fire station after 30 years’ service
A long-serving Romford firefighter who recently received a top bravery award has taken off his helmet for the last time.
Graham Morland, 59, had worked at the Pettits Lane North station just shy of 30 years when he retired last Friday (November 30).
Working for the fire brigade, which he described as “the job I always wanted to do”, saw him tackle blazing schools and rescue people from burning houses.
And in 2010 he received a borough commander’s letter of congratulations for saving an elderly woman’s life in Main Road.
But the modest hero insists it was all in a day’s work.
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“After my first big job, everything was ‘just another incident’,” he said.
But back in 1983 Graham only narrowly made it through the application process – because, at 29, he was considered almost too old.
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“At the time the recruitment policy in London said you had to be a maximum age of 30,” he explained. “I was the oldest by far at training school.
“Back then, Romford wasn’t known as a particularly busy station. It was famous for grass fires and big road accidents, but I didn’t know what to expect.”
Graham’s first major call-out was the fire that destroyed Straight Road School – now Hilldene Primary.
“Being fairly raw at the job I was with a chap with some experience,” Graham remembered. “It was eye-opening to say the least.
“I remember there was one of the biggest bangs I’ve ever heard, and he said: ‘Don’t worry – that’s just one of the cast iron radiators exploding.’”
Stansted dad-of-two Graham also did his share of charity work with the brigade – including car washes and a sponsored relay between east London fire stations in the mid-1980s, during which he ran eight miles from Dagenham to Wennington.
Son Matt, now 35, said Graham had made firefighting into a family affair for him and twin brother Michael.
“It was brilliant for us,” he said. “I loved telling people my dad was a fireman.
“One week after he started he was taking his five-year-old sons onto the engine for pictures, and a week before he finished he was taking his five-year-old grandchildren to do the same thing.
“He absolutely loved his job. His commanding officer said he’d never known anybody as enthusiastic about a job as he’s been.
“For his dedication and commitment to the fire service he was second to none.”