Northumberland firefighter honoured by the Queen

A Northumberland firefighter who has worked tirelessly for his community for the past 36 years has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Watch Manager Jimmy Gair, who combines his role as a retained firefighter with a full-time job as a butcher in Longframlington, has had a distinguished career with Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) for more than three decades.

He is the longest-serving Watch Manager within NFRS with a level of commitment to be admired. Alongside his day job, Jimmy often provides more than 120 standby hours per week to enable him to respond to emergency situations.

He also plays a key role in operating and training others in one of the fire service’s newest pieces of equipment.

Following major flooding in Jimmy’s hometown of Morpeth in 2012, NFRS introduced the county’s first specialist Swift Water Rescue Vehicle which Jimmy would manage. He soon qualified as a Swift Water Rescue Technician meaning he could provide further help to his local community in any future floods, and he regularly uses these skills to train partner agencies.

Speaking about his honour, Jimmy said: “I must admit to being a little surprised when I heard I was being awarded an MBE, but it is a great honour. It does keep me busy juggling my day job as a butcher and my role in the fire service but I really appreciate being able to do my bit for the community, not just in Morpeth but throughout Northumberland.”

NFRS Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett said: “This is a well-deserved honour for Jimmy and everyone in the fire service is proud of his achievements and commitment over many years. His management of the introduction of the first Swiftwater Rescue Team and his work during the move from Morpeth to the new community fire station in Pegswood are just two examples of his skills in communication, influence and persuasion.

“He has served the community of Morpeth tirelessly as a long-standing and respected retained firefighter and watch manager for 35 years. The fact he is able to dedicate so much time to helping others, while working full-time, really is inspirational.”

Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, with responsibility for NFRS, added: “Jimmy typifies the dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm of our fire service personnel. All the council would like to send their congratulations to Jimmy for being recognised for all his work at the very highest level.”