Stansted firefighter Dave Morland bids farewell after 33 years with fire and rescue service
For the crew manager at Stansted fire station, one of the most vivid memories he takes with him on his retirement after 33 years’ service is of an emergency call-out – to his own station!
Dave Morland, 55, recalled the day when crews had set up in the morning by overturning a car in the yard at the back of the Chapel Hill station and placing a dummy underneath in order to practise a mock rescue later that evening.
“I went home and then my pager went off early afternoon," said Dave. "We arrived at the station to find that the call was to a man stuck under a car – and the address was our station!
“Someone who lives around the back of our yard had seen the legs sticking out from under the bonnet and called 999.”
That was one of the more light-hearted memories. Having served at Stansted for 23 years – following stints as a retained firefighter at Bishop’s Stortford, where he grew up, and Thaxted – he has dealt with every kind of emergency all across the county.
"I’ve attended several hijackings, been into burning buildings, driven the fire engine and done endless jobs on the motorway over the years. We were a busy station doing around 700 calls a year. We have one of only two specialist off-road vehicles in the county here and everything's geared up for the airport and M11,” he said.
When RAF fighter jets were scrambled to escort a private business jet to Stansted on January 12, Dave and his crew responded. “We have to respond to any aircraft that's being threatened in UK airspace. We also have the foam unit here. It’s all a great selling point for new people interested in joining the fire service – we have all these vehicles here in Stansted!”
Fire station open days have also been a highlight. “Our open days have got better and better – the more you put into it, the more you get out. Unfortunately we couldn’t do this year’s, which would have been my last one.
“But you get great job satisfaction when you go out into the community, visiting schools, giving advice on fire safety and letting the kids squirt water round the yard. It’s all been great fun.
“I’ve spoken to others who have retired and they all say you miss it for a few months, but I’ve done just about everything I wanted to do in the fire service. I don't have to carry a pager around with me any more though, which is a bit strange.”
Colleagues bid farewell to Dave last Thursday (Jan 14), bringing to an end a long family association with the service. His father was a London firefighter for 30 years, as was his cousin. And while serving as a part-time firefighter, Dave's other jobs have included security guard, milkman and now he is a traffic officer with Highways England.
Dave and his family live close to the station, in Woodfield Terrace, and he urged anyone who lives or works within 5-8 minutes of the station to consider joining the crew. With fellow watch manager Paul Harrington due to retire in March and another long-serving member leaving next month, the total crew drops to 12.
Two new recruits are going through their basic training but will not be on the run for another six weeks. A third woman is joining the station, working alongside Dave's fellow crew manager, Claire Harrington, and Lina Ednie.
To find out more visit www.essex-fire.gov.uk or visit the station on Thursdays from 7pm.