AN on-call firefighter's watch has ended after 30 years manning the pumps.

Kenneth Dalby, of Harwich Road, Little Oakley, has retired from his post as crew manager at Dovercourt Fire Station.

The 62-year-old took up the role while he was working at PPM Albro, formerly Vacuumatic, and was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When the company closed and his job moved to Colchester he was only able to offer nights and weekend cover.

Ken said: "My children were very young at the time.

"Katie is my youngest and she has only just turned 31 so she was just a baby.

"I don't know why I started really, I knew people who did it at the time and it seemed like a good idea.

"I've been to fires and road traffic accidents.

"I remember my first call out I went to, which was a house fire at one of the wooden houses in Norway Crescent, and turning up and there were flames coming out of the windows."

Ken, who now works from home as a project manager for a machine labelling company, said when he first started he was called to a lot of chemical leaks and spills but said you never know what the call will be for.

He added: "I've been in burning buildings.

"You lose all your senses, you can't see and it's hard to hear - nowadays you have communication on the breathing apparatus but in those days you didn't.

"You rely on your touch, and it can get pretty warm.

"But you are trained to handle it.

"One day it might be a large fire at a derelict building and another time it's a small kitchen fire.

"Sometimes you could get called out three or four times in a night and then have work the next day but it doesn't happen often.

"In Dovercourt we don't get many."

To mark his retirement Ken was presented with a wooden axe on August 31 by his fellow firefighters.

Daughter Katie Gooch said: "My father is currently the longest serving retained firefighter at Dovercourt he has given our town near 150,000 on call hours.

"For our family, my dad having a second job was life changing, and it has been a commitment that he has been proud of for many years.

"I know I speak on behalf of my mother and three brothers when I say that we are extremely proud of him."

Dovercourt Fire Station is currently recruiting on call fire fighters.