A RINGWOOD firefighter has retired after 40 years of service to the community.

Kevin Morrison, who is watch manager at Ringwood fire station, finished his last shift at the station on Friday.

He said: “It is sad but it is the right time for me to hang up my boots and get some of my life back.”

The 59-year-old says the job is a “very big commitment” but he has enjoyed his time as an on-call firefighter adding: “There have been some really memorable calls.”

“It has been a really great experience,” said Kevin, who joined when he was 18.

“It has made me the person I am today.”

On what he will miss most, he said: “I will miss the guys I work with. I’ve worked with some of them for my whole career in Ringwood.”

But, one thing he won’t miss is all the paperwork.

Kevin served at Alton fire station for 16 years before joining Ringwood where has been the officer in charge for the last 18 years.

However, he admits he never intended to join the fire service until he saw firefighters in action dealing with an incident where he worked at a builders merchant.

“It was an accident at work and the fire service came to a lorry driver who had a load of glass fall on him. The fire brigade came to free him and I spoke to the driver of the fire engine and that’s where it all started.”

Kevin went down to the fire station and completed the necessary tests - beginning his firefighting career on May 5, 1980. He says before that point the idea “hadn’t crossed my mind at all”.

“If you told me back in 1980 that I would have done 40 years in the fire service I wouldn’t have believed you,” he added. “It is a big, big change for me.”

During his time with the fire service Kevin has been involved with fire cadets, a voluntary role which he will be continuing with after his retirement.

He has run the fire cadet group in Ringwood over the last 20 years - seeing a number of cadets go on to have careers with the fire service locally and further afield.

“I quite like working with young people,” he added. “It is not only skills about the fire service, it is life skills, giving them more confidence and keeping them out of trouble.”

For those interested in becoming an on-call firefighter, which is a role people do alongside their normal day-today job, Kevin says contact your local station. He added:”It is a number one job. It is something completely different and something you probably never thought of doing. But it is amazing.”