NO MORE FIRE CALLS FOR HIM
FIFTY -ONE-YEAR-OLD Mr. H. S. Shepherd, Station Officer of Mitcham Fire Brigade, slid down the emergency pole on Monday morning but not to answer a call.
It was a farewell gesture.
For when Mr. Shepherd came off duty after a 72-hour spell at 9 a.m., he began his retirement.
He leaves the brigade four years earlier than is necessary. Recent changes in conditions enable officers to retire on pension after 30 years.
Mr. Shepherd was born in Mitcham and joined the brigade when he was 19. Apart from the war years, he has been with it since. In 1926, Mitcham fire brigade consisted of a chief officer, an engineer sub-officer — and Fireman Shepherd.
“The engine was a box on four wheels — but what a machine! It won competitions all over Surrey.”
“It had solid tyres, but it could travel at 45 m.p.h. — faster than engines today, hampered as they are by traffic.”
When there was a fire, a bell, and later a siren, in the Town Hall, called council roadmen and gardeners from their jobs.
They donned uniforms and helmets as the big Merryweather roared down the road.
“Fire-fighting was not as easy then as it is today . . . we had no wireless.”
During the war, Mr. Shepherd worked with the National Fire Service. He was in the thick of the London blitz.
He became Station Officer at Mitcham in 1950.
This week he will be moving with his wife and children (Roger, 10, and Irene, 20) from the station house to the home on the edge of the cricket green, which he has owned for some years.
“I shall take it easy for a bit,” he said.
“And for the first time, 1 won’t have to sleep with the telephone next to my bed.”
On Sunday. Mr. Shepherd was presented with a barometer by members of Mitcham Fire Brigade, and with a gift voucher by the officers.