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FIREFIGHTERS and their families celebrated more than 700 years’ service last night at the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) Long Service and Good Conduct Medal Ceremony.
34 firefighters were presented with the Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal by Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Mr Warren J. Smith JP, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in the county.
The service of support staff was also celebrated with Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor David Acton, presenting two Fire Authority 40 Years Long Service Award Medals and two 20 Years Long Service Award Medals.
The recipients – from firefighters and officers to ladder technicians and ICT experts – attended the awards ceremony with their families at the Imperial War Museum North.
Between them the recipients have saved countless people from danger, saving lives and protecting property from the devastating impact of fire, floods and other emergencies.
Speaking at the ceremony, Lord Lieutenant Mr Smith JP, said: “It is an exceptional privilege to be invited here to do this presentation.
“I don’t need to tell you that the Service provides a high degree of risk not only for yourselves but for your colleagues. I want you to know that the majority of people I speak to do respect this and the work that you do.
“May I as Her Majesty’s representative here in Greater Manchester, on her behalf, congratulate and thank each and every one of you for the great service you do for the British public.”
Medal recipient, Firefighter Claire Louth, who serves in the Technical Response Unit at Ashton under Lyne, has been deployed across the world as part of her work with the UK International Search and Rescue team.
She said: “A highlight during my career was being deployed to Bosnia as part of the UK International Search and Rescue team after the devastating floods in 2014.
“As part of a team of six from Greater Manchester we rescued around 30 people from their flooded homes and led 50 people to safety, one old lady had fallen and badly broken her arm and was using cabbage leaves to dress the wound having been cut off by the water.
“We carried her to the boat, through the water and then off to hospital. The family and the lady could not thank us enough, international language, lots of hugs and kisses.”
Patrick Johnson, a station manager based in Manchester, said: “I have some good memories of the watches I’ve worked on, especially the eating and sharing laughter around the mess table.
“The buzz of a good job and that feeling of belonging to a close knit group is absolutely priceless.”
Crew Manager, Gary Shanks, trains and assesses firefighters across GMFRS, he said: “The Manchester Bombing is the largest incident I have been involved with.
“Although nobody died directly as a result of the explosion, the devastation and destruction caused is something I will remember for ever.”
GMFRS County Fire Officer and Chief Executive, Peter O’Reilly, was attending his first Long Service and Good Conduct Awards Ceremony as Chief of the Service.
He said: “Every firefighter receiving an award tonight has dedicated their working life to keeping the people of Greater Manchester safe.
“All of them share the values of selflessness and courage, which make firefighting such a noble profession.
“On behalf of the community I would like to thank all of tonight’s recipients for their distinguished service.”