Firefighter John calls time on retained role

Retained firefighters, back row, from left: Gary King, Rory Culton, Alan Reid, John Graham, Derek Gordon, Alan Gray and Alan Domingo. In front: Crew commander Andrew Clarkson, group commander Scott Forbes, John Pearson, watch commander Michael Aitken and crew commander John Gray
Retained firefighters, back row, from left: Gary King, Rory Culton, Alan Reid, John Graham, Derek Gordon, Alan Gray and Alan Domingo. In front: Crew commander Andrew Clarkson, group commander Scott Forbes, John Pearson, watch commander Michael Aitken and crew commander John Gray

JOHN Pearson’s time as a retained firefighter has been extinguished after 40 years with the service.

And the 59-year-old, who joined Hawick Fire Station on January 27, 1972, aimed a parting shot at those in charge.

He said: “Because of all the paperwork and health and safety, it’s not the job it used to be. I think it was the right time for me to go out. I’m fit enough and I passed all my medicals but it’s just the ongoing paperwork. Instead of training, we’re just filling in forms.”

John, who is a plumber with Scottish Borders Housing Association, has helped come to the rescue in a number of fires at Commercial Road, Charles Street and at various mills throughout the town; as well as numerous road traffic accidents.

“Fires are still the same as they were 40 years ago and we’re here to fight them, not fill in forms about having the right uniforms and other things,” he said.

When he first started John had to take part in three full weekends of training at the station which qualified him both as a firefighter and in the breathing apparatus. He was also a driver for 33 years.

He explained one particular part of the job that has changed.

He said: “Although we’ve got pagers now, when I first started we had a bell to alert us. During the day a siren used to go off so everybody knew we were going to a fire, but that couldn’t happen at night so there would be a bell and it was horrendous.

“And very few of us had cars so we used to have to take our bikes or just run there.”

On his retirement John received a commendation scroll from group commander Scott Forbes and a present from his colleagues.

He added: “I was lucky to work with a great bunch of guys.”