Retired Wigan fire chief goes back in time with local crews

A former fire chief enjoyed an emotional day back at work thanks to present day firefighters.

Friday, 2nd August 2019, 3:51 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd August 2019, 4:51 pm
Bernard with the Wigan crew

Retired Wigan chief fire officer Bernard said he was “absolutely stunned at the amazing changes and extremely thankful” after his wish of going back to work for the day was granted by Wigan fire station.

Bernard managed over eight fire stations during his career, starting in 1952 and progressing through the ranks, becoming division commander in 1977 until his retirement in 1980.

He managed stations in Wigan, Bolton, Bacup, Leigh and Chadderton and remembers each station as clearly as if it was yesterday.

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Bernard when he was a fire chief

Wigan fire station and Norley Hall care home’s activities co-ordinator Elaine Lunn came together to organise a day Bernard would not forget.

He was greeted at the station by the watch on duty, along with station manager John Duffin.

He told the crew what happened in his day and how excited he was to see what had changed since he retired.

The crew went through each piece of equipment and talked about what had changed over the years.

The sprightly pensioner was then taken outside, where they did a full drill using hoses, equipment and the tower to demonstrate how they would tackle a blaze today.

Bernard quipped: “There was no sympathy in my day. If they misbehaved they got the hose!”

Bernard requested the firefighters lined up and report in for duty “like we did in my day”. This is something that had not been done for 20 years, but the crew knew what to do and treated it as an honour to recreate the memory for Bernard.

John said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to have Bernard back in the station. We have all enjoyed his company and thoroughly enjoyed talking about the changes over the years.”

Bernard added: “It’s been a fantastic day, thank you so much to all the men at Wigan fire station. My wish was granted and we have formed a relationship. I will be going back to show them pictures of when I worked there all those years ago. The changes in the station today are amazing, the kit and apparatus these days have come a long, long way.”

Elaine said: “When we came back from the fire station he was reliving it and got a bit emotional, it really was his dream to go back to the job he loved. We have printed pictures from the day which are now up in the home and we have one wrapped up ready to take to the fire station.”