Retired North-East firefighter reunited with his old engine as he celebrates 100th birthday (From The Northern Echo)
For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Retired firefighter reunited with his old engine as he celebrates 100th birthday
A RETIRED firefighter today (Wednesday) recalled a bygone era as he celebrated his 100th birthday – and was reunited with one of the first appliances he had driven.
Joe Dixon’s eyes lit up when he recognised the 1937 Leyland Cub fire engine and even remembered the registration number before seeing it.
Clambering nimbly onto the engine, he posed happily for photographs and eagerly pointed out how it worked.
Mr Dixon was at the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service headquarters, Washington, where he was presented with specially engraved medal by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Margaret Wood.
He said: “Getting behind the wheel again was really something special. I drove this very engine and maintained it. The only fault we found was it was too heavy for its brakes.”
Mr Dixon of Killingworth, North Tyneside, began driving wagons to London at the age of 16, before he joined the service in 1938 to be stationed at Newcastle’s Pilgrim Street Fire Station.
He said: “We worked 72 hours on and 24 hours off back then. The brigade was entirely different.
“All we had was a pair of leather boots, a reefer jacket, a helmet, a belt and an axe.
“There was no protective clothing.
“It was only when the national fire service came in (in 1941) that we started using waders.”
Mr Dixon recalled one of the biggest fires he dealt with was when a German bomb fell on New Bridge Street Goods Yard, in Newcastle, in September 1941. It took days to burn out because of the sugar and food it contained.
He had a short break in service from 1943 to 1945, when he joined the RAF and became flight engineer with Bomber Command.
He returned to work at Headlam Street Fire Station, where he was a sub-officer, before retiring in 1964.
Mr Dixon said: “We had some horrible situations, as the lads today probably know about - people burned to death and youngsters drowning. There were lots of occasions that were sad.
“But the most rewarding part was being able to helping and rescue people and controlling fires.”
Mr Dixon still keeps fit, walking up to four miles a day.
Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling said: “We realised we had the old fire engine that Mr Dixon served on - that made his visit it even more exciting.
"It was an honour to let him live through some of his memories again."
Comments are closed on this article.