TRIBUTES were paid to Burley fire watch manager Tim Gray when he retired after more than 30 years of service.
A special presentation event was held in his honour at the Burley Club, where colleagues presented him with gifts and his loyal and faithful commitment to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service was commemorated with a certificate.
Tim has seen a lot of action since becoming a firefighter at Burley. Soon after joining up he was involved tackling one of the largest heathland blazes ever to take place in the New Forest, when flames swept across Bratley Plain, forcing the closure of the A31 on an August weekend.
He recalled: “We were the first on scene and more than 60 firefighters were called to the huge outbreak but we managed to stop the flames from crossing the A31 although it did reach the central reservation.”
The scariest moment of Tim’s three decades in the job came during a cottage fire at Blissford when the flaming roof caved in, burying him and several colleagues with burning thatch. Fortunately, they all escaped with just minor burns.
Tim has attended several other thatched cottage blazes during his time with the service, as well as collisions, animal rescues and ship incidents at Southampton Docks.
The farthest he has travelled in response to an emergency was to flooding in West Sussex where Burley’s crew helped pump out a number of properties when the River Ems burst its banks.
Tim, who runs his own motor repair business in the village, added: “I’ll certainly miss the camaraderie, but not turning out in the middle of a freezing cold winter’s night.”
He is pictured receiving one of his gifts from Burley fire station’s officer in charge Les Browning (right).