Firefighter receives medal for 40 years of service

Neil Byford of Newport Fire Station

Neil Byford of Newport Fire Station - Credit: Essex County Fire Service

A watch manager from Newport Fire Station has received a medal for 40 years of service. 

Neil Byford's long service was honoured during an online awards ceremony held by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, on behalf of the Queen. 
Neil joined the fire service in November 1980 in Newport. Neil’s entry into the fire service followed a proud family tradition as his father was the station officer in charge of the fire station and his uncle was a leading firefighter. Neil worked alongside his father for two years, before his father retired after serving for 42 years. Neil’s brother joined the station and served alongside him for a further 25 years. Neil became a leading firefighter in 1985 and then watch manager in 1988.  

Over his career Neil has attended more than 12,000 incidents - from serious house fires to a 100-vehicle road traffic collision on the M11. He also attended the Korean Air crash in 1999, when a jumbo jet crashed minutes after take-off from Stansted Airport, killing all four crew members. The role involves seeing awful and tragic events unfold which can be heart-breaking for all emergency services workers to witness.  
Newport Fire Station is on-call, which means that the firefighters who work there respond to a pager when there is an emergency and leave whatever they are doing to get to the fire station. Neil works nearby running an agricultural contracting business, which means he can respond to calls even when he is at work. 

Over the last 25 years Neil has also employed four on-call firefighters at his business, allowing them the same ability to leave work at a moment's notice. Neil isn’t ready to hang up his boots anytime soon so his commitment to the fire service is set to continue.

Lord Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst described the long service and good conduct efforts to the county as ‘immense’. 

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Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: "Every day firefighters walk towards danger to help people when they need it the most and staff provide the support to enable them to do so.

“We should also recognise the loved ones and families behind the scenes."

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