A firefighter who served Andover and the surrounding area for almost 30 years was honoured in a ceremony today (May 27) at the fire station.

Ian Carpenter, the station’s crew manager, has stepped down following a career spanning from when he joined as a part-time firefighter at the age of 19 until this Sunday (May 30), when he will be on shift one final time. However, he’s planning to come back part-time in the future.

“I’m going to take a bit of time off,” he told the Advertiser, “and try and get my golf handicap down a bit! I’m going to spend a few months to see what’s around. I’m not young enough to retire for good, and I’m hoping to come back for a bit longer.”

Ian began his career at the age of 19 when he joined Stockbridge Fire Station after his father, the crew manager, retired.

“It took me six years, but I finally went full time at the age of 25,” he said. “It’s been a great career, full of lots of great people”.

Over this time, Ian served mostly in Andover, but also in Basingstoke and Rushmoor, and he says that what being a firefighter is has “completely changed” over the past three decades.

“When I started we used an air-powered saw,” he said, “and now we have battery powered hydraulic cutters. It’s not just advances in our technology, but cars have completely changed as well.”

He also said firefighters now had much more of a community role, carrying out ‘Safe and Well’ visits for residents in the area.

“We’re going out into the community more now,” he said. “We’re making people safer through advice, as well as rescuing them.”

Though it may be goodbye for now, Ian hopes it’s not the end.

“I’m hoping to come back as a retained firefighter,” he said. “I think I still have more to give.”

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service group manager for Winchester and Test Valley, Paul Riddell, paid tribute to Ian’s service as he gave Ian his award recognising his “long and faithful service”.

“He’s a real stalwart,” said Paul. “I want to say thanks for the dedication and professionalism Ian has show on behalf of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service, but also for the public as well.”

There was no hanging around at the station that day, with a crew from Andover having already been called out to a fire before the ceremony at 9am.

The crew was called out at 8:11am following reports of a fire in the open on Meade Road in Ludgershall.

They found a bonfire involving garden waste, which was extinguished using one hose reel, before returning to Andover for the award.