Today is a special day for FCCL, and tomorrow some time will be,
in part, spent in quiet reflection of past friends and memories
that can still reduce me to tears forty years later.
I oppose cuts in fire and rescue provision in the main because having become involved nearly two years ago now, and it seems day by day increasingly the right thing to do. I have been named in WYFRS dodgy reports, phoned up and harassed by WYFRS employees and the deeper i have dug into their dealings have been genuinely shocked by what i have discovered ( and that's not including the transformation of a greengrocer into an ACO which rendered me speechless for all of ten minutes!)
WYFRS breach peoples human rights by tracking their cars, try and discipline employees for "liking" our facebook page and also they tell lies (which i intend shortly to prove) . Add in manipulating figures to the nth degree and it seems pretty clear somebody (and i don't just include me in that statement) has to stand up to them.
There are other reasons i run this blog.
For a kick off i was brought up in the fire service as my father (Eddie) was a fireman at Huddersfield, as later was my brother Paul. And as a consequence growing up i had a myriad of "Uncles" in my life. Uncle Ken (Lane) was a favourite as he always ran the children's parties at Christmas (where at Huddersfield FS Santa actually came down the chimney).And my Uncle Arthur (Tallon) who up to me being about 7 lived next door but one.
I had the honour of being brought up in a close knit community of firemen and their families who looked after each other, The Tallon's were my godparents and myself and Jane their youngest daughter and I were close friends even though she was three years my senior.
40 years ago today at around about the same time as i am writing this, a fire started in Summerlands, an entertainment complex in the Isle of Man. Fifty people lost their lives that night including Jane Tallon aged 13 who had been allowed to go on holiday with a friend and her mum for the first time.
|Summerlands Leisure Complex|
By this time my Uncle Arthur was DCO of Huddersfield Fire Service and I can't imagine the torment he and his family went through in the days and weeks after Jane's death. I can however vividly remember sitting glued to the TV the day after the fire watching the death toll go up and my dad pacing the floor muttering that she would have known what to do and how escape. I knew exactly what my dad meant as I along with probably every other fire fighters child i had been taught from an early age to make a mental note of fire exits, extinguishers etc when going somewhere new -to be honest i still do it to this day! Eventually Jane's body was identified by Uncle Arthur by a St Christopher around her neck.
I know how I felt in the months after Jane's death and I shall never forget my Uncle Arthur and Auntie Jeanne's faces when i saw them the evening of Jane's burial at her graveside. Desolate doesn't even cover a 10th of the expressions on their faces and insides their hearts must have been not just broken but smashed to bits.
So I have seen and felt first hand what fire can do to a person, a family and a community and that's why i will keep plodding on. Sadly i am convinced that one day soon the ridiculous cuts in fire fighters and services will come home to roost and somebody will die unnecessarily. It might be a member of the public or a fire fighter but it will without a shadow of a doubt be someone's loved son or daughter.
I shall always remember Jane and I sitting in her dads car watching a big mill fire ( he had a dreadful habit of following fire engines even if he was off duty) and when you were little it was brilliant fun being driven in car with the siren blaring and a blue light flashing on top) and being totally unfazed by it all, with the occasional fireman popping by to see if we were ok. That most certainly wouldn't happen these days!
Tonight in the Isle of Man a memorial will be unveiled in memory of the fifty people who died that night
I will be back to my usual stroppy bad tempered self tomorrow but for tonight will sign off with the words carved into Jane's headstone - Goodnight, God Bless. and the Firefighters Prayer
When I am called to duty God,
Where-ever flames may rage,
Give me strength to save some life,
What ever be it's age.
Help me embrace a little child,
Before it is too late,
Or save an older person from
The horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and to hear the
And quickly and efficiently,
To put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and
To give the best in me,
To guard my every neighbour and
Protect his property.
And if according to my fate,
I am to lose my life,
Please bless with your protective hand,
My children and my wife