A local firefighter is saying goodbye to the fire service after 17 memorable years of serving Callington and its surrounding areas in the same week that special honours were given to the fire service to mark the upcoming Platinum Jubilee.
Callington firefighter Stuart Mills joined Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service in 2005 with a strong wish to help and support his local community. Stuart said: ‘I’ve always wanted to support people and give something back. My other employer has always been really supportive of my role in the fire service, allowing me to jump out and go on calls at all hours so I feel indebted to them. Being a firefighter is hugely rewarding and I’ve taken immense pride in it over the years.’
Stuart further credits his firefighting role with according him a great range of transferrable medical, first aid and emergency response skills which can be utilised in his other job and other areas of life.
There have been many highlights for Stuart over the years. He said: ‘Working with the community is so important, we always happily provide fire education to local schools, cubs, scouts, beavers and other groups. We help people in all situations. I’ve experienced rescuing horses and cows from outdoor swimming pools or bodies of water, attended many RTCs and retrieved people stuck down mine shafts. People sometimes joke and ask if we rescue cats from trees but I’ve only ever done that once!’
In 2010, Stuart moved from Drakewalls to Callington to provide greater cover for the station; living closer allowed him to cover other officers leaving and enabled him to respond to call-outs even faster.
Throughout the years, Stuart has witnessed several changes in his role, particularly technological advances, and credits greater public education and proactive awareness in providing greater safety from fire. Stuart said: ‘Since I started, we’re using new fire kits and breathing apparatus. We received a new fire engine at the station in 2014 which was a huge upgrade. Technology is always improving, as is public safety and awareness. Twenty years ago, chip pan fires were very common but nowadays we have so many more devices like smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors protecting people. New building regulations always have enhanced safety measures as a prerequisite. We ran a campaign a few years ago about smoke alarms, someone in the local community then ensured they had one fitted and a week later we were called to their house when their tumble dryer caught fire in the middle of the night. Having the smoke alarm installed allowed for early intervention and to get them to safety.’
Now looking to the future, Stuart simply wishes to enjoy all the ordinary things life has to offer, namely, spending time quality time with family including his wife, two children (who will soon be flying the nest) and his dogs and also pursuing hobbies whilst still working for Samworth Brothers who manufacture produce for local bakeries such as Ginsters and The Cornwall Bakery.
Stuart said: ‘It was a bit of a shock to the rest of the team when I announced I was leaving but I’ve known them for many years and they were very understanding. It wasn’t an easy decision to make - it’ll be difficult to step away from the role but life always moves on and the community is in great hands. It’s been a privilege to serve them and I wish the crew and all others in Cornwall the best of luck for the future.’
Stuart’s colleague, firefighter Borlase, said: ‘Having served nearly 5 years myself it has been a pleasure to have worked along side Stuart as a firefighter and as a friend. Being a firefighter is about building trust as a team and working together in any given situation. When I joined Callington fire station it was very daunting as I had stepped out of my comfort zone to fulfil my dream of being a firefighter. Stuart was very welcoming and made me feel like part of the team/family and consistently did so for the last 5 years. His support, time and effort played a big part in my development and confidence. It’s sad to see him leave the service but his support throughout will definitely not go undone.’
Team members who have served for more than five years at the station were presented with a special, commemorative medal from Anthony Bartlett, area manager, to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last Tuesday evening. This medal has also been awarded to serving frontline members of other emergency services, prison services and the Armed Forces. This medal serves as a token of the nation’s thanks; the Platinum Jubilee medal follows a long history of awarding medals to mark Royal Jubilees (the first was awarded to mark the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1887).
The team at Callington are always looking for on-call firefighters. If you are interested, apply at: https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/jobs-and-careers/on-call-firefighter-recruitment/
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