Cliff hangs up his hose

When Cliff Amos joined Norfolk Fire Service in 1967 the England football team was world champions.

When Cliff Amos joined Norfolk Fire Service in 1967 the England football team was world champions.

He was only 18 when he signed up and has just retired after 42 years serving as a retained fire fighter in his home town of Attleborough - a role he first learned about as a boy.

'We lived next door to a chap called Sid Wilson. Sid was a firefighter so I grew up knowing what it meant to be retained. We used to hear the bell go off and him go out,' he explained.

Leaving school at the age of 15, Mr Amos joined his father, in partnership, in the building trade.

'One of the jobs we had was to decorate the fire station so I got to know the chaps at the station. They had me down as a likely candidate. In October 1966 I was invited up to the station for a 'chat' with Station Officer Lenny Peacock and before I knew it he was saying 'sign here', which by the end of the night I'd done,' he said.

He started the following January, and clearly recalls his first fire and the lesson he learned.

Most Read

'It was a chimney fire in Old Buckenham. Now, the 'senior' officers were exactly that, pretty old, and needed someone to go on the roof and all looked at me. While I'd been on plenty of roofs what I didn't expect was the heat - so I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes learning that lesson!'

Over the 42 years he attended many of Norfolk's major incidents, including D&L Plastics in 1991 and the Norwich Library fire in 1994. But, ironically, he missed one of Attleborough's biggest blazes which destroyed a multi-million pound factory.

'Yes, I missed Banham Poultry,' he laughed. 'I was on holiday in Hunstanton. I couldn't believe it when I picked up the paper the next day.'

Mr Amos became a sub officer in 1983 and remained officer in charge at Attleborough until two years ago, when stood down as fire chief so he could be back in the thick of it with his crew. But now - 'It's simply time to go,' he said.

'I've enjoyed riding the pump and doing the job. I think most officers would say 'Cliff Amos, always managing from the front', which is just me.'

Future plans include supporting a project in Africa, while also dear to his heart is Attleborough Heritage Group. 'I am chairman and at the moment I am producing a museum meeting room at my home at Soma House,' he added.