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New Milton firefighter Paul Rimmer steps down after 'rewarding' 38-year career

“IT’S a rewarding job.” These were the words of Paul Rimmer who has tackled his last emergency after 38 years as a New Milton firefighter.

His retirement as retained crew manager was marked by colleagues who presented him with a certificate for his long service.

After joining in 1983, Paul (62) responded to many incidents, which required him to drop work or family commitments the moment his pager sounded.

Paul Rimmer is presented with a certificate for his service at New Milton fire station (Photo: Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service)
Paul Rimmer is presented with a certificate for his service at New Milton fire station (Photo: Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service)

“Over the years I was involved in responding to a wide variety of call-outs, ranging from rescuing people from the bath to incidents like the major ship fire at ExxonMobil in the 1980s,” he said.

“Unfortunately, a crew member on the ship died, and we closed the whole Solent down at that stage. I think we had most of Hampshire dealing with that, along with the Esso crews.”

More recently, Paul was among multiple crews that battled an inferno which devastated a large expanse of Wareham Forest in summer 2020.

He was partly inspired to join by a retained Lymington crew member, who was dating the twin sister of his future wife Lindsey at the time.

“I thought it would be a bit of a payback to society – doing something to help out others,” he told the A&T.

Paul became leading firefighter – a role later renamed crew manager – over 20 years ago.

Throughout the past four decades his firefighting commitments were balanced with a day job as a vehicle technician, first at the former Williams Bridge and then at Martin Pilley Services.

Both employers and family were fully supportive as he was frequently paged to incidents which could be over within an hour or take much longer.

“Obviously, it was a question of my wife having to cope with planning to go somewhere and then me getting paged so she and the children would have to go on their own,” he said.

“It’s strange. I went to the Bournemouth air show this year. Normally I wouldn’t have gone, but now I’ve been able to go and enjoy the whole show.”

Paul now looks forward to spending more free time with Lindsey, daughter Charlene and son Lee, and taking dogs Jay and Buddy for walks.

Looking back on his firefighting career, he said: “You don’t know, literally, from one call to the next what you’ll be dealing with.

“You help a lot of people – whether it’s at the scene of fires, road traffic collisions or other incidents.

“It’s a rewarding job and one that I would recommend to someone as long as they’ve got the right disposition.”

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