The man who has led Ludlow’s firefighters for the past 20 years is stepping down after a 38 year firefighting career.
John Taylor (63) is retiring as Watch Manager at Ludlow Fire Station where he has been in charge of 18 of the town’s firefighters’.
But John, of Charlton Rise, Ludlow, will still be continuing his family painting and decorating business which his grandson Michael has just joined.
With an average 200 emergency calls a year, John reckons he has turned out to around 8,000 incidents during his time with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
As with all on call firefighters who work full time in other jobs, he has had to down decorating tools in mid job about 3,000 times – returning once the emergency is over.
“I left one decorating job at 8am and went back the next day at 10pm and they asked me where I’d been for the past 24 hours and my reply was firefighting on the Long Mynd. Some calls just take longer to deal with,” said John whose son Adrian is also a firefighter.
During his career he has answered a wide variety of 999 calls to deal with fires in homes, warehouses, garages and an air crash at Tenbury.
Gas explosions, road crashes and chimney fires have all happened on his shifts over the years.
“When you are releasing someone from the wreckage of a vehicle who has died in a traffic collision, you do imagine how their family must feel. The quietest place is on a fire engine when you are coming back from a fatal car crash. Nobody speaks.
“It is a dangerous job sometimes but very fulfilling. Firefighters put their life on the line every day and offer a service that not everyone can do but those that do, put a lot into it.”
Friendships among firefighting colleagues runs deep with much “mickey taking” and laughter, said John, who intends to spend more time travelling abroad with wife Jean.
“Being a firefighter is like belonging to a club. It’s a big family and I will miss that. But I won’t miss turning out in the middle of the night not knowing what we are going to face.”
A retirement party collected funds towards the town’s war memorial fund to inscribe Ludlow’s war dead on the town’s war memorial.