On-call fireman Mick says farewell after 29 years service

Soham Fireman (left) Mick Galley, retires after 29 years, with Watch Commander Richard Powell. Soham Fireman (left) Mick Galley, retires after 29 years, with Watch Commander Richard Powell.

Friday, April 11, 2014
10:33 AM

It may have been 29 years since he first answered an emergency call, but retiring on-call firefighter Mick Galley can still remember the first fire he ever tackled.

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“It was a Saturday at 6.30pm and it was a Ford Escort that had caught fire,” he said. “I’ll always remember that.”

Since he joined the on-call crew at Soham fire station in 1985, Mick has seen plenty of changes but says the service is more professional now than it has ever been.

He said: “The equipment we have now is a lot better and the training is excellent. When I started, cutting somebody out of car would have taken 10 minutes, now they can do it in half the time.”

Mick signed up while he was working at agricultural firm Fisons, which had a long history of supplying firefighters to the town’s station.

Mick says that, as on on-call firefighter, he had slept “with one leg out of the bed” for almost 30 years but added that he had been proud to have served Soham and hoped new recruits would soon take his place.

Among the more bizarre calls he had attended over the years, Mick, of Guntons Close, said that a dove stuck up a tree had been a particularly odd call along with a bird stuck in fishing net at Isleham Marina.

Now that he has completed his final shift, the 62-year-old said he would be focussing more time on fishing alongside his full-time job as a partner in steel fabricators in Soham.

He added: “They are great bunch of lads here at the station, and a lady, and I’ll miss them.”

Paying tribute, station commander Martin Ockenden said: “Mick was the smallest member of the team when he joined the service and although he used to be squeezed into tight spaces at incidents, he became a big character on the station.

“His close friends remarked on his calming demeanour and frugal mannerisms, having run their social events.

“During his distinguished career he attended countless emergency incidents helping many members of the community in their hour of need. Although he is a slight man he has left big boots to be filled.”

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