ONE of West Yorkshire’s longest serving firefighters is retiring after 41 years' service.

Ilkley’s watch commander Alex Watson, is preparing to take a well-deserved retirement following an outstanding and dedicated career serving his community. He is also one of the longest-serving on-call firefighters in the whole of West Yorkshire.

His retirement has prompted him to encourage others to consider joining the service as an on-call firefighter to support and protect local communities, including in his native Ilkley.

Alex said: “No matter what type of incident you’re called out to, the team is always focused on a good outcome, and that feeling of being able to help people has been the most enjoyable and fulfilling part of my 41 years in the service by far.”

“There are opportunities for more on-call firefighters to come forward in both rural and urban areas of West Yorkshire, and I’d encourage anyone who meets the criteria and wants to help their local community to do so,” he added.

“I’d like to thank my family and colleagues for their support over the years as they are the ones who’ve made it possible for me to see out such a long service.”

“Throughout my time, I have met so many people in the organisation who have had an impact on my life. Those that trained me at the start of my career, those that I have attended incidents with, including control staff, the support staff who form an integral part of our team and those that have supported me and helped me to manage Ilkley Fire Station for the past 22 years. All of them I would like to thank.

“Being an on-call firefighter presents a rewarding and exciting opportunity to get paid alongside your day

job while working with great people and contributing to good outcomes in your local area.”

On-call firefighters are skilled people from all walks of life who offer daytime, evening and/or weekend cover at on-call fire stations in addition to their normal, day-to-day commitments.

Just like their wholetime counterparts, they work on the front line protecting their community. On-call firefighters are not based at station, but when on-call, individuals must be able to reach their station within five minutes of their pager going off.

If you want to be an on-call firefighter visit

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is recruiting at several stations across West Yorkshire. Call into your local station to have a chat with staff about the roles available.