Britain's Longest-Serving Firefighter Retires After Saving Lives For 48 YEARS

Yahoo News.
Roger, now 70, began his career aged 22. (SWNS)

Britain's longest serving firefighter has finally retired after saving thousands of lives during a career lasting nearly half a century.

Roger Smith started battling blazes in 1967 for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service when he was 22-years-old.

He progressed through the ranks, and was promoted to Leading Firefighter in 1972, Sub Officer in 1983 and took command of the station on January 1, 2008.

The grandfather-of-two wanted to keep working until he reached 50 years service but has been forced to leave the job due to ill health at the age of 70.

Now after 48 years, Roger officially hung up his boots following a drill session at Market Drayton Fire Station, Shrops.

The former mayor has saved countless lives and battled 9,000 fires during a career spanning almost five decades.

Roger with his colleagues before his retirement in Market Drayton, Shrops. (SWNS)

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During his time in the job, he attended major incidents including the 1989 IRA bombing of Tern Hill Barracks and fires at the Donnington defence base.

Roger said: 'It’s unbelievable how the years have gone by but it has been a very enjoyable experience.

'I’ve met an awful lot of people and been to thousands of fires and other incidents.

'There have been a tremendous number of changes over the years, particularly better appliances and equipment.

'Health and safety was virtually non-existent in the 1960s.

'It is sad I didn’t make it to 50 years but I am looking forward to having more free time to go walking, and see my grandchildren.'

Both of Mr Smith’s sons, Mark, 41, and Paul, 38, are also now firefighters.

Aside from the day job, Mr Smith was mayor of Market Drayton in 2010 and helped to run an electrical business with his wife Margaret, 67, who he has been married to for 43 years.

He was elected to be an independent town councillor in 2004, and was appointed Deputy Mayor in 2009, prior to becoming the town’s Mayor a year later.

Mr Smith followed in his father's footsteps as his father Bert was the first ever mayor of Market Drayton.

He received a Good Citizen’s Award from the county’s High Sheriff last year to mark his service to the community, and also has the distinction of being an Honorary Townsman.

Friends, family and colleagues have also been invited to a special celebration that will be held on May 29 to mark the end of his long career.

Chief Fire Officer John Redmond said: 'We salute Roger for his long and dedicated service which has spanned almost half a century.

'Roger stands out for his loyal and distinguished career. It is a truly remarkable achievement to serve for that length of time.

'He is a credit to the fire and rescue service for everything he has done for his community both as a firefighter turning out at all times of the day and night to deal with an emergency and also while serving as a councillor and mayor for Market Drayton.

'We wish him well in his retirement.'

Roger at the start of his career in 1967. (SWNS)
Roger has fought fires for nearly half a century. (SWNS)