A father and son firefighting duo have shared their memories of keeping the communities of Darlington safe, as the fire service marks its 50th anniversary this year. 

Billy and Graham Hindmarch, who have both served out of the Darlington Fire Station at some point in their career, shared what it was like to be in the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.

Billy, who joined the fire service in 1970 and retired in 1994, served out of Darlington Fire Station in its old format - but shares happy memories of his time in the town and hailed the camaraderie between colleagues that made it a great place to work at the time. 

The Northern Echo: Billy and Graham HindmarchBilly and Graham Hindmarch (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

Meanwhile, his son Graham, who started at the fire service in 2008, began his career at Darlington Fire Station, before gaining a promotion, which now sees him cover the Bishop Auckland area. 

This week, the father and son were at Darlington Fire Station, with Billy returning to the facility for the first time since he retired. 

This comes as County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service marks half a century of service.

The Northern Echo: The father and son firefighting duoThe father and son firefighting duo (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

On April 1, 1948, in the aftermath of the Second World War, a fire service covering the whole of County Durham was first established. 

But it wasn’t until 1974 when a reorganisation brought Darlington into partnership with their neighbours that County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service was officially created.

To mark the milestone year, the service is planning a host of celebration activities and is on a mission to reunite firefighters, control and corporate staff past - with Billy and Graham being the perfect case studies for showcasing the fire service old and new.

On entering Darlington Fire Station on Wednesday, Billy noticed the "high-tech" world that firefighters live in now - but noted that there is more vital training for firefighters these days, compared to when he was a firefighter. 

He said: "The site has changed so much - the buildings have changed and the amount of equipment they have now is massive. 

"But the job has changed as well. The safety measures and equipment they have are very different - I remember dealing with a fire and going into the building and feeling the heat swarm around your ears - we didn't have the protective equipment they have now."

These changes that Billy highlighted are also shared by Graham - who believes fire safety messages and social media have helped to spread the message to members of the public.

He said: "Smoke alarms are a massive change - the majority of places now have them and make a massive difference - and people now have more information about fire safety around them. 

"In my dad's day - it was tougher for them - but we have all of the specialist equipment, dedicated gyms, facilities, so we have everything we need."

Read more: 

Get more content including the stories that matter to your community from The Northern Echo for just £3 for 3 months for a limited time only here.

Now that Graham has moved to Bishop Auckland Fire Station after his promotion, his dad Billy has spoken about his pride in his son - calling him a "great firefighter".

He said: "I couldn't be prouder - to see him moving up in his career - he made the same career move as me and gained promotion."

Despite Billy's praise of his son, Graham believes that having his dad as a firefighter helped inspire him into a future career in the fire service - which included Billy frequently having Graham around the station when he was a kid.