Farewell to firefighter who served West Sussex communities for nearly 30 years

A firefighter who has dedicated almost three decades of his life to serving communities across West Sussex has turned off his pager for the last time this week.

Steve Clack
Steve Clack

Steve Clack retires from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service having served at Chichester, Crawley, Horsham and Worthing fire stations.

He joined the service in the week between Christmas and New Year in 1991, carrying out his first shift at Chichester Fire Station before posted to White Watch at Crawley, where he was promoted to Leading Firefighter in 1999. Since then he has served as both Sub Officer at Worthing and Station Manager at Horsham, before taking up a role as part of the service’s training team based at Worthing in 2012. Since then he has risen to the role of Group Manager, and also served as the service’s Area Manager for People.

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Looking back on his time with the service Steve said: “The fire service I joined back in 1991 was very different to the one I leave behind this week. Back then it was PVC trousers and cork helmets, which are – thankfully – a far cry from the new Personal Protective Equipment that was issued to us all at the beginning of this year.

Steve Clack

“When I went to Crawley in 1992 there was a bar on the station with a full line of optics, and a cigarette machine too. It all seemed quite absurd but was of course from a different era. We had a single typewriter on station that – if you wanted to – you could type out your memos to staff on, but most of the time it was a lot quicker and easier to write it out by hand. Now everything is instantaneous.

“The advance of technology has brought about some incredible changes in the service, not least in our new fire appliances, which we in the Operational Training Team have been busy training crews to use over the last few months.”

The team’s work across the whole service was recognised earlier this year in the service’s Annual Awards when the team was recognised as the Team of the Year.

“People often reflect on the incidents they have attended over the years, of which there have been many, but for me I will be taking away the memories of serving alongside some truly wonderful people. The camaraderie of being in a team of likeminded people who have the same shared objective, that is what gets you through the hard times.

“I have enjoyed my time working in training immensely, being able to nurture colleagues and help them realise that the most important thing in your career is realising your full potential. Being able to say that I have played a small part in someone achieving their success means a lot.

“And that is what I will be taking away with me.”

Chief Fire Officer, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, said: “Steve has been a much-loved member of the West Sussex Fire family for almost 30 years, and in that time he has supported a great number of our staff through their careers. I doubt there are very many members of staff who have not – at some point - been inspired by his enthusiasm for the work he does which he has carried out so diligently over the years.

“We will all miss that cheeky smile, and the ability he has to put anyone at ease, even in the most stressful of incidents. He has earned his retirement, and on behalf of the whole service, I would like to wish him all the very best as he enjoys the next chapter of his life.”