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On-call watch commander retires after two decades service

Martin receiving figurineAfter more than two decades of responding to emergencies, Cambourne Fire Station's watch commander has retired.

Martin Ward departs the station having given 24 years of service, many of those leading the on-call crew at the station around his full-time job at the Royal Papworth Hospital.

Joining Papworth Fire Station in 2000, Martin quickly became an integral part of the crew. He also took a lead role with the Service’s high-volume pump, a national resilience asset provided by the government.

Martin said: “I’m lucky to have always worked with a great team. I have always enjoyed the friendships, camaraderie and am lucky to have met and worked with many amazing people throughout the Service who do genuinely look after and care for each other. I have attended many incidents and have always done my best to support the public in their time of need in a professional, caring manner. Equally, I have been looked after by some great people and have felt valued.

“Being an on-call firefighter is not just a job. It really is a way of life and a huge commitment for both the employee and their family. Living on my own for many years I have been lucky to have a very supportive family to help me out when needed.

“My son Dylan, now 18, has always been supportive and proud of what I have done often getting kicked out of the car on my way to the station for a shout back in his younger days. More recently when he comes to stay, he just rolls his eyes and prays I’m out long enough that he can spend some quality time on his XBOX without me nagging him. My mum Kathy, sister Vanessa and brother Scotty have always helped me out looking after Dylan at the drop of a hat.

“More recently, my partner Amelia has again been proud and supportive. Like Dylan, she often rolls her eyes when we haven’t seen each other for a few days and the pager goes off just as we sit down for dinner. She has always understood us being against the clock to get home to be on-call when we’re out spending time together.

“My main employers (Royal Papworth Hospital) have always been very supportive allowing me and other firefighters to respond to calls during the working day when we were based on the old site over in Papworth before we moved to The Cambridge Biomedical Campus in 2019.”

Assistant Director Stuart Smith presented Martin with his retirement figurine at the station, in front of the crew and staff gathered from other stations and headquarters. He said: “Martin has been a great asset to the station and the Service as a whole, he will be greatly missed but has definitely earned his retirement.

“We are certainly grateful to Martin for his dedicated work with the high-volume pump. His desire to make the best possible use of the equipment, as well as leading training and guiding others, is certainly going to be missed. Also, the recent move to Cambourne from Papworth was an emotional challenge for everyone, but Martin played a key role in ensuring it happened smoothly.”

Martin concluded: “I’ve been lucky to have some fantastic line managers and chief executives, as well as being part of a great team, who have allowed me time for operational duties. They have also given us the use of the buildings for training, allowing us to maintain our skills. A huge thank you to each and every one of them as without your support I wouldn’t have been able to have done what I have.

I will truly miss you all. I have been inspired by many and have learnt some really useful skills which helped me not only in my CFRS role but also my wholetime role at Royal Papworth Hospital.

“I am genuinely sad to be leaving CFRS but looking forward to relocating to a new chapter in my life with my partner, as well as a new motorbike at some point, potentially.”

As Martin explained, being an on-call firefighter means responding to emergencies in the local community. This can be while at work, when you’re about to have dinner or while you’re asleep.

On-call firefighters at Cambourne, and 20 other stations around the county, carry a small pager and are alerted to respond when needed. They need to be within five minutes of the station in order to be available.

Think this is something you can do? Visit to find out more, or visit your local on-call station. The crew at Cambourne train every Tuesday from 7pm.