When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Retained firefighter honoured for 30 years service
3:25pm Saturday 6th October 2012 in News
ONE of the first things that Gary Hounsome had to master when he signed up as a novice firefighter was how to stand to attention – three weeks later he was out on the engine fighting fires.
Thirty years on he continues to serve the Romsey community as a retained firefighter.
The 51-year-old has been recognised with a medal for his long service from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
As a retained firefighter Gary, who works as a selfemployed builder, can be dealing with everything from cats stuck up trees to serious road traffic incidents and blazes.
Gary signed up to be a retained firefighter aged 21, with no experience, and joined 11 others for three weekends of basic training at Eastleigh Fire Station.
As a retained firefighter Gary is paid a basic rate to be on call for 119 hours a week and more for each time he is called out. This means he is on call from 6pm to 6am every weekday and from 6pm on Friday until 6am on Monday.
When a call comes in from the control room to Romsey Fire Station, on Alma Road, it immediately links in to a pager system that contacts firefighters within a four mile radius.
From this pager the first fire engine must leave the station within five minutes and the second within seven.
Whenever Gary is on call he must be within that radius unless he has permission not to be – this means even a shopping trip to Southampton must be authorised.
Saving Luckily he has the support of partner Jane, children Mitchell, 22, Georgina, 21, Ashleigh, 19, and stepchildren Yanny, 21, and Milan, 20.
Over the years he has attended many fires, a memorable one being a serious fire at the Conservative Club in Romsey in 1984.
His expertise has also proved invaluable, like saving the life of a man who was choking at a barbecue, putting into practice the Heimlich manoeuvre, which he’d learned as part of his fire first aid training days before.
Gary said: “I feel very proud to have done it and to be still doing it,” he said.
“When you get recognition, which we quite often do it's very rewarding."