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Havering firefighter retires after 31 years of putting out fires

PUBLISHED: 15:29 27 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:39 27 April 2018

Firefighter Shane Cook is retiring after 31 years working for the London Fire Brigade

Firefighter Shane Cook is retiring after 31 years working for the London Fire Brigade

Archant

A firefighter who followed in his father and four uncles’ footsteps working for the London Fire Brigade, reflects on 31 years of putting out fires.

Firefighter Shane Cook is retiring after 31 years working for the London Fire BrigadeFirefighter Shane Cook is retiring after 31 years working for the London Fire Brigade

When Shane Cook became a firefighter at the age of 18, his father, Chris Cook and four uncles were also working in the London Fire Brigade (LFB) in various stations in Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

Years later and Shane, 50, from Essex performed his final roll call at Hornchurch fire station, Billet Lane on Thursday, April 26, retiring from his position as the station manager for Harold Hill and Wennington.

Shane never worked at the same fire station as his family, but explains that they were part of his inspiration for starting the job.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to be a firefighter, since infant school.” Shane said.

Firefighter Shane Cook is retiring after 31 years working for the London Fire BrigadeFirefighter Shane Cook is retiring after 31 years working for the London Fire Brigade

He still remembers his first day as a firefighter in Stoke Newington on March 9, 1987, when on night duty the green watch team had 17 calls, the first of which was to reports that a rubbish bin was alight.

Shane told the Recorder: “Our equipment and uniform has improved massively, and our training has been enhanced.

“When I joined, our uniform used to have silver buttons and we wore red plastic gloves which would melt in the heat.

“Radio communications have also improved, we used to use a typewriter, pen and carbon paper to do our reports.

Firefighter Shane Cook is retiring after 31 years working for the London Fire BrigadeFirefighter Shane Cook is retiring after 31 years working for the London Fire Brigade

“In the old days, firefighters didn’t wear their breathing apparatus and were called smoke eaters because they used to just walk into fires unprotected.”

As for how the fire service is now, Shane believes LFB is, “in a good place”.

He added: “I think we as a service engage with the community more and we’re more approachable to the public.”

Shane said that he wouldn’t miss the 57 hour long shifts or having to work on birthdays and on Christmas day, but that he would miss the experience of working for the London Brigade as a whole.

“I’m going to miss the people I work with - the camaraderie of the firefighters and the wonderful characters - being a firefighter is my life,” Shane added.

“The fire service is very special, there’s a reason why people say it’s like a family.

“From a boy to an old man - it’s been everything.”

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