THE manager of Fordingbridge Fire Station has celebrated 30 years of service to the community.

Pete White joined the then Hampshire Fire Brigade at the age of 18 and his first ever “shout” was to a window frame on fire at the house of a local GP.

Since then he has attended thousands of incidents ranging from thatch roof fires, road accidents, house fires, animal rescues, major flooding and even cats up trees.

“I have enjoyed every minute of it and worked with some great people along the way, some of whom are friends for life. I am even serving now with my own son,” said Pete.

“I was encouraged to join by a friend after seeing one of the crew respond to a shout one night when we were in the pub after playing football. I ended up working for most of my 30 years with that person before he recently retired. It seemed a really worthwhile thing to do at the time and that’s exactly how I still feel now.”

Some of the bigger incidents Pete has attended over his 30 years service are the huge blaze at Loaders Mill in Fordingbridge, the Maltings Shopping Centre fire, the fire at the White Hart Hotel in Salisbury, the huge fire at Swinley Forest in Berkshire and the major flooding at Hambledon.

He said: “I suppose my most memorable call has to be Loaders Mill and the Maltings Shopping Centre although some of the local incidents such as the flooding in Pennys Lane in Fordingbridge a few years ago also stick in my mind as the gratitude of the local people was amazing.

“Also the Christmas Eve where we had been out all evening helping people with flooded properties and then attended a car in a ford at Gorley where we rescued three people from the water. We all received a chief’s commendation for that incident which don’t get given out very often.”

As well as attending emergency incidents Pete has always been heavily involved in organising social events and fundraising including the annual Fire Station 10K race and the Party in the Park music event.

Pete added: “All in all its been a brilliant job and certainly does not feel like 30 years.”

To mark the occasion the fire station held a party at Avonway which was attended by serving and retired firefighters from Pete`s career as well as his family who have supported him throughout. His wife Jane was presented with a certificate and a bunch of flowers for her dedicated support over the 30 years as well.

The station presented Pete with a mounted firefighter’s axe and he will receive his meritorious service medal from Chief Officer Dave Curry at a ceremony in November.