A fireman who has dedicated his life to keeping his community safe says he has loved every minute of it.
Jack Moss, 65, has been fighting fires and rescuing people for 50 years.
He joined the service in March, 1963, at the age of 15 and is as enthusiastic now as he was then.
The retained firefighter was one of 12 unsung heroes from around Lincolnshire to be presented with a High Sheriff Award at a recent presentation ceremony at the Judge’s Lodgings in Lincoln’s Castle Square.
Jack, who lives in Billingborough, was nominated by Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer Dave Ramscar for the extraordinary and vital contribution his voluntary work has made to helping others.
Each of the award-winners received an engraved lapel pin and a certificate.
Jack joined what was then the Kesteven Fire Brigade in Billingborough as a junior firefighter.
On his 18th birthday he signed up as a volunteer and became a leading firefighter in 1976.
He was promoted to sub-officer in 1981 on the same day as his father retired from the same role. He became a retained firefighter in 1984.
The family tradition is now being carried on by his son Daniel, 33, who is a full-time firefighter based at Spalding.
Having given countless hours responding to emergency callouts at all hours of the day and night, Jack has combined that with full-time work as a lorry mechanic for various firms in the village area and with bringing up a family.
His local fire station, which dates back 100 years, has moved location several times, the present one in the village High Street was purpose-built in 1991.
In the early days they fought fires with a trailer pulled behind one of the volunteers’ cars and then acquired a Land Rover before finally getting a proper red fire engine.
Today’s appliance, named Billingborough, is a huge, beautifully polished state-of-the-art fire and rescue machine that sits ready for action 24/7.
“Equipment-wise we’ve gone from strength to strength – we were very lucky to get one of these new pumps,” Jack said.
He is watch manager of a unit of 10 retained firefighters – nine men and one woman, differentiated uniform-wise by the pink stripes on her boots.
The station gets about 200 callouts – or shouts – every year.
The nearest fire stations with full-time firefighters are at Grantham and Boston.
“All fires are different,” he said. “The biggest one that stands out in my memory was the Bass Maltings one in Sleaford in 1976, a big building and a big fire. We had 25 fire engines from all over the region attending.”
He has dealt with every kind of fire – houses, especially chimneys, haystacks and stubble fires, car fires and road traffic accidents (RTAs).
“There have been some very nasty RTAs in the area, on the A15 and A52 in particular, but I’m very lucky that whatever I see, however bad, it has never affected me,” said Jack.
“ We’ve had to cut people out of cars on numerous occasions and you often witness dead bodies.
“Nobody enjoys seeing some of the things we see but I learned to deal with it early on.”
Since 2009 Jack has been involved in training and there is a drill night every Wednesday.
Today’s retained firefighters get the same training as full-time personnel. They are trained for every eventuality but over a longer period of time.
Although he will be retiring from Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue as soon as the latest bunch of recruits have finished their course, he will carry on for a while doing paid work as a trainer for Securitas.
Born in Leeds, Jack has lived in Billingborough since he was seven and went to the village primary school – where he is now a governor – and then to the Robert Manning School in Bourne.
His wife Joy, who is from nearby Pointon, is a teaching assistant at the school. They married in 1976 and, as well as Daniel, they have daughter, Amanda, 30, and four grandchildren.
Jack, who already has a long service and good conduct award as well as one for the Queen’s diamond jubilee, was surprised to be nominated for the High Sheriff Award by the chief fire officer.
“I’m not one for awards ceremonies or anything like that but it was very nice to get it and we had a lovely day out,” he said.
He added that he was proud to have spent his career with the service and even more proud to have been part of a family tradition.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my career,” he said. “It’s been very worthwhile and rewarding and I’m pleased I’ve been fit and well enough to continue for so long.”
The outgoing High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, John Burke, paid tribute to people such as Jack for their service to the county.
“Over the last year, I have had the privilege to come across many extraordinary individuals and groups who voluntarily devote their time and energy to improve the communities in which they live or work,” he said.
“These people make Lincolnshire a better and safer place to live.
“On behalf of Lincolnshire, I’d like to give them my heartfelt thanks for the part they have played in making Lincolnshire a county to be proud of.”