A firefighter who has helped to save peoples’ lives for more than 30 years is retiring.
Dennis Bowery will have been with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for a month short of 33 years when he leaves on June 30.
For the first 30 of those years, he was a retained firefighter at Normanton station.
When Mr Bowery, now aged 59, wasn’t working full time at Sharlston Colliery and later at Hickson and Welch in Castleford, he was on call.
He said: “When I was retained it was very tiring and demanding. At the time my kids were growing up and it was hard because I couldn’t just say ‘right we’re off to Pugney’s for a walk’. I had to check whether there was enough cover available before I did anything.”
In his career, Mr Bowery has seen a number of changes within the fire service.
He said: “The equipment we have now is so much better. Over the years we have become more of a rescue service than a fire service.
“When I first started it was mainly fires that we went to, but now it’s more often road traffic collisions. And we’re fully trained in water rescue now as well.”
During the years Mr Bowery has been called to many fires and road smashes where lives have been lost.
He said: “The main way you get over these things is by talking to your workmates. They all understand.”
He was one of the first firefighters on the scene at the fatal bus crash on the M62 motorway in April when 18-year-old Bethany Jones died.
For all the tragedies, Mr Bowery said it was important to concentrate on the times when lives had been saved.
He said:“I think 90 per cent of people want to be a firefighter. Like most of the firefighters here, I’ve lived in Normanton all my life – we’re serving your own community.
“But I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family, because I’ve been away from them a lot, and going on holiday. I will definitely miss the service, especially my workmates here.”