One of Grantham’s longest serving firefighters hung up his helmet and boots for the last time on Friday after 30 years’ service.
Clive Baillie, 55, joined Grantham Fire Station in June 1988 after passing out from the Birkenshaw training centre in West Yorkshire.
His colleagues, friends and family gathered at the Urban Hotel on Saturday to celebrate.
We caught up with Clive on his first few days of retirement to find out what he will miss the most ...
Why did you decide to join the fire service?
It was actually just by chance that I ended up applying. I used to take Taekwondo and heard a couple of members talking about how Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue service were recruiting. I was at a bit of a loose end after working as a postman and on building sites, so I decided to apply and five months later I had a place at their training school. I was sent to Grantham station ‘temporarily’ and moved into one of the fire brigade houses on Denton Avenue. I met my wife Cheryl (Chez) when one of my fireman pals set me up on a blind date.
We got married in October 1990 and bought our house on Denton Avenue in 1993, where we still live today. Our first son Karl arrived in 1997 followed by our second son Jake in 2002.
Thirty years is a long time, what have been some of your highlights?
I was fortunate enough to be accepted on a fire service exchange programme and moved to Australia between 2000 and 2001 with Cheryl and Karl. I swapped entire lives with an Australian firefighter, who was known as Big Red. He lived in our house and served at Grantham fire station and I served at Melbourne Central. It was a life changing year.
When I returned, I wasn’t keen on the shift patterns at Grantham and transferred to Lincoln, where I stayed for the next 10 years.
What challenges have you faced?
When Jake was born, we discovered that he had autism. As he got older and his condition got more complex, I knew that I needed to be closer to home, so transferred back to Grantham for the last three years. My colleagues have been absolutely amazing and have really taken Jake under their wing, even making him an ‘honorary firefighter.’ I often take Jake to the station and he always sits in each of the fire engines before running up to the tea room, where everyone makes a fuss of him. The crew even organised a special leaving party for him on Friday, including a buffet and Fireman Sam on the TV. They presented him with an inflatable axe to replicate my axe, which was presented to me as a retirement gift, as is the tradition with all retiring firefighters. Over the years, the fire brigade have become my family and a shoulder to cry on.
What will you miss most about the job?
The people. The fire service attracts a certain type of person and there has always been a great comraderie at the station. I will also miss engaging with the public and helping out on community days.
Anything you won’t miss?
Being on call at night!
Have you got any plans for retirement?
I would like to work with special needs children or become a carer. I have also been asked to present a lecture on how autism affects the fire service to stations across the region.
But first, I am going to indulge by cycling hobby and treat myself to a Pinarello bike which is like the Lamborghini of the bike world.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
Just a big thank you to Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, especially Grantham, who have kept me sane over the years. I would recommend a career in the fire service to everyone. I have enjoyed every minute.