HE’S battled fires, cut people from wrecked cars, pulled people from floods and even helped free trapped animals, but now Ralph Hutton is hanging up his helmet after 36 years in the fire service.
The 60-year-old from Waterlooville will work his last shift as station commander at the town’s fire station on Monday.
He said: ‘I’m not saying it’s a young man’s job but you have got to be fit.
‘You just know when it is the right time to retire.
‘I do love my job and I will miss it without a shadow of a doubt. It’s a big part of my life but it’s time to let someone else have a go.’
Ralph joined Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service when he was 24, after he was recommended by Fred Mant, his colleague at Wadham Stringer Coachbuilders, who was also a retained firefighter.
Fred paid a visit to the station earlier this week to congratulate Ralph on his retirement.
For Ralph, firefighting is a family career. His father, also called Ralph but known as Larry, was a firefighter at Copnor, and Ralph’s son Ross is a crew manager at Fareham.
Ralph said he was now looking forward to spending some more time with his five grandchildren. He also intends to carry on his property maintenance business.
He will be taking part in a fundraiser for the Fire Fighters Charity with fellow fire service members in July which will see him walk 120 miles retracing the Second World War Cockleshell Heroes escape.
‘Only when that’s over will I honestly say that I’ve retired,’ he said.
Group Manager Brian Neat thanked Ralph for his years of service.
He said: ‘Ralph is an immensely experienced and respected firefighter.
‘The example he set and his passion for the fire service even inspired some new recruits to join up.’
All who know Ralph are invited to a party at the Royal Naval Association Club in Aston Road, Waterlooville on February 11 at 7pm.