"Rare breed" firefighter retires after 32 yearsBy Becky Barnes
March 05, 2013
A retained firefighter who fought the Swinley Forest fires has retired after more than 32 years service.
Ralph Webb, from Birch Hill, received a medal and certificate when he stepped down from the Bracknell crew on Monday, February 11.
The 58-year-old said: “I would like to thank my colleagues and ex-watch manager for their support, particularly when I had a heart attack in 2009 and in 2011 when I ruptured my Achilles tendon on a fire call.”
The grandfather-of-three fought the flames of the Swinley Forest fires for four days in April and May 2011 and on the first day worked for 15 hours.
He said: “That was a long old day.
“We went out at 8.45am to a fire at the back of Wellington College and as we were driving back into the station we got a priority call to go to Swinley Forest.
“We were there until 1.50am the next day.”
Ralph, who works full-time for a Bracknell security firm, also dressed up as an elephant to collect cash in Bracknell town centre.
He said crews had taken to the streets after the parents of a boy Scout who died in a fire in Harmans Water asked firefighters to fundraise.
He said: “On the day of collecting, a pensioner come along on his push bike and said I can’t spare a lot then put 10p in.
“I remember that so clearly because it was from the heart.”
Watch manager Martin Kerby said: “It has been a pleasure working with Ralph and as his watch manager he has given me full support over the years.
“Ralph is what I call a rare breed.
“During all the years I have known him he has always turned up for drills and fire calls immaculately dressed – his shoes were the envy of the station, you could see your face in them.
“Ralph wore his uniform with pride and was very proud to be a firefighter.
“I would like to wish Ralph the very best in his retirement and a big thank you from me and his colleagues.”
Ralph said he will miss the ‘banter’ of the fire crew and will continue working as a security supervisor in Bracknell.
He plans to use his retirement to travel with wife Lorraine to Kefalonia and Crete and visit his son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren in Norfolk.