Bootle Fire Station watch manager John Bradley retires from the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service

ONE of Cumbria’s longest serving firefighters has hung up his hat after nearly 50 years of incredible service.

Bootle Fire Station Superintendent John Bradley completed his last shift last night after 47 years with the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.

The 69-year-old, who also works part-time as a builder and carpenter, attributed the age to his decision to retire.

He said: “I intended to finish at 55, then I thought I would go a bit longer, which turned into 14 years older. I said before Christmas that I was going to go there before I turned 70.

Mr. Bradley witnessed hundreds of incidents in his nearly five decades of service and is estimated to have saved dozens of lives over that time.

Assisting with traffic collisions is just some of the work done by firefighters, which Mr Bradley calls one of the “toughest areas”.

The former shift manager witnessed the fatal crashes of Skye Mitchell and, more recently, Ted Southward, both of whose fathers are also retained firefighters.

“These are two of the most difficult incidents I have ever had to witness,” Mr Bradley said.

“You always look back and think I could have done something different and if it happens again what can we put in place. We are constantly reviewing everything all the time.

Mr Bradley has been posted to West Cumbria throughout his 47 years of service, including Millom, Barrow, Whitehaven and Flimby.

He said the service had undergone significant changes since his arrival.

“We had yellow leggings when I started,” Mr. Bradley said.

“Now we have all the equipment and the right boots, so it’s much safer. There have been many changes.

“We are certainly seeing more traffic collisions now than before. There is always this fear when you attend an RTC that it is someone you know who can make things more difficult.

“Anyway, we always try to do our best to get the person out and save their life – that’s our job.”

A ceremony was held at Bootle Fire Station on Wednesday evening when Mr Bradley received a plaque commemorating his decades of service.