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Protection officer celebrates retirement

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service bid farewell to Watch Commander Rob Cowling after more than 20 years of service.

Rob, who most recently held a role in the Service’s fire protection team, retired in June after serving nearly 24 years in the fire service. Colleagues from across the county gathered at Cambridge Fire Station to wish him all the best at a retirement presentation, where he was presented with his figurine by Area Commander Chris Parker.

Rob started his career in Soham as an on-call officer, before joining the London Fire Brigade. After being based at Knightsbridge, Rob transferred to Cambridgeshire as a wholetime firefighter. During his time he has served at Cambridge, St Neots, Stanground and Huntingdon, before returning to Cambridge as a Fire Protection Officer.

Speaking about his retirement, Rob said: “To those friends and colleagues, who are still serving, thanks for sharing my journey. I've done a job I have loved for nearly 24 years. I’ve come to work every day with a smile on my face, have given it my best, worked with some fantastic people and made life-long mates along the way.

“For me, the job was a way of life. It's not an understatement to say it's the best job in the world and a job that many people would love to do. I've managed to do it and lived the dream.”

Rob is excited to enjoy retirement with his family at their Duxford home, and looking forward to perusing his passion for photography and keen interest in film critiquing.

Area Commander Chris Parker added: “Rob has been a great support to many people, including myself, during his career. His measured approach and positive outlook has been so useful to draw on during his time and is something that many people, especially me, will certainly miss. We all wish Rob and his family the very best for the future.”

Reflecting on his career, Rob said: “Over the years I have seen many changes, including technology, equipment and the way incidents are managed. However the fundamentals for me haven't changed. A call for help from a member of the public, in an emergency or a fire safety concern, we will turn up and every person involved will do their best to help. I am proud to have been part of the Service.

“One of my warmest memories came when I was a crew commander on Cambridge Red Watch. At a building fire I was wearing breathing apparatus and was leading the first team into the building. It was searched, cleared and the fire put out. I praised my colleague who was a probationary firefighter for a job well done. It was a proud moment as it was my younger brother.

“A fond memory I also have is from attending a fire at a holiday resort about 16 years ago. It was a huge incident with more than 20 fire engines at the scene. At one point I was at the top of the turntable ladder overlooking the incident. The layout of the resort made it difficult for the fire engines to get onto the site and access the affected areas. As a quick solution, officers commandeered bicycles from the resort and were cycling around the incident area. It was funny seeing all the white helmets whizzing around.