Markyate pensioner speaks about two decades as on-call local firefighter

PUBLISHED: 09:19 13 June 2018

Gerald at the Herts Fire and Rescue Service through the ages. Picture: Herts county council

Gerald at the Herts Fire and Rescue Service through the ages. Picture: Herts county council

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A Markyate pensioner has opened up about two decades serving as a local firefighter.

Gerald at the Herts Fire and Rescue Service through the ages. Picture: Herts county councilGerald at the Herts Fire and Rescue Service through the ages. Picture: Herts county council

Former farmers boy Gerald Busby was recruited in 1973 for the Hertfordshire Fire and Ambulance Brigade, which is now called the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

He worked an average of 100 incidents every year for the next twenty years.

The 73-year-old,who has lived in Markyate since he was two, became sub-officer in charge of the village’s fire station in 1979.

Mostly Gerald attended M1 accidents - but forty years ago the motorways were unlit and if a crash happened after dark, the team would have to work in the pitch black.

Gerald at the Herts Fire and Rescue Service through the ages. Picture: Herts county councilGerald at the Herts Fire and Rescue Service through the ages. Picture: Herts county council

He said: “With some of the tougher incidents we attended, we coped together as a group. We would go back to the station and have a cup of tea together. Going back to work wasn’t so bad because you could distract yourself, but returning home and trying to get to sleep after a tough incident was harder.

“There was a real community feel as an on-call firefighter, because you knew a lot of the people you were helping. Some of the crew lived in Markyate but worked elsewhere, but with my day job in the shop, I knew a lot of faces from the community. The downside is that it can be harder to separate yourself from the job when you know the person involved.”

In 1985 Gerald took on the role of a fire control operator on top of his on-call duties and closed his family farming shop.

Gerald said: “One time, I took a call about an incident very close to home. A lorry had been driving through Markyate in the early hours, slightly too fast, when it couldn’t brake fast enough to take a corner near a hill opposite my house. The lorry went straight into the house next door. My wife was at home and was woken up by the noise.”

The neighbours slept throughout the incident and there were no casualties.

Gerald retired as a firefighter at 56-years-old in 2000, but after a hiatus to grieve the passing of his wife returned to working as a control room operator in 2012.

He added: “My children all say ‘if’ I retire – nobody says ‘when’. I’m still very much enjoying what I do. My days could just be spent going on holidays or looking after grandchildren, but I can still combine those things with working. It’s the best of both worlds.”

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