LONG-SERVING Chulmleigh firefighter Mike Hiscock is standing down after almost 30 years in the service. Watch commander Mike, 56 yesterday, joined Chulmleigh 061 as a rookie in May 1981 and after moving through the ranks, took over the running of the stat
LONG-SERVING Chulmleigh firefighter Mike Hiscock is standing down after almost 30 years in the service.Watch commander Mike, 56 yesterday, joined Chulmleigh 061 as a rookie in May 1981 and after moving through the ranks, took over the running of the station in August 1989.He is part of three generations of firemen in the town."My dad Peter was at the station for 26 years before me and I spent a lot of time down here with him as a boy," Mike told the Gazette."I was asked to join by the then sub officer Bill Croucher as they were short at the time. "Bill said to me: 'don't join for the money; do it as job for the community'. I took the job on to do just that and feel proud to have served my local community."Mike's son Guy, 26, has since followed in his dad's - and grandfather's - footsteps by joining the station six years ago."I've really enjoyed it," said Mike, who runs his own building business in the town."I've attended some big fires over the years: I remember fairly early on in the 1980s there was a very large fire that we were called to at the Candar Hotel in Ilfracombe. We had to pump water in from the sea that day."Another big fire that sticks in my mind is an incident at Woodbury Common in Exeter in the mid 1990s."The camaraderie at the station is second to none. But it's a young man's game and it's time to step down."I shall miss it. I've been here half my life: I'm part of Chulmleigh and I'll still be part of the social set-up at the station."I've had massive support from my family over the years, you need that support to be able to run a fire station."Mike took part in his last ever drill night on Monday. Current crew commander Derry Clarke will be taking over as watch commander.As well as a watch commander, the Chulmleigh fire station has a crew commander and nine firefighters - including the town's first ever fully qualified female firefighter - and one new recruit.Chulmleigh's crew, which typically handles between 60 and 80 calls a year, has one of the biggest catchment areas in North Devon."We have always tried to be on call 24/7 but people's lifestyles have changed and it's a tough job these days to keep the pump on the run," said Mike."I've seen a lot of changes in the structure of Devon Fire and Rescue Service and now the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, some for the good and some for the bad. Over the last three years new legislation has made it increasingly difficult to run a retained service in a rural area."Despite the "difficulties", Mike said the future of a fire service in the town looked safe."Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has already identified a site in the town and hopefully in the next few years there will be a new fire station in Chulmleigh," he said.