Northern Ireland FRS's longest serving firefighter has been presented with a certificate of recognition from NIFRS at a special presentation night in Antrim Fire Station to acknowledge his 50 years of dedicated service to the local community.
Watch Commander Ronnie Nicholl commenced service at the age of 18 on 29 August 1963 as a retained firefighter in Antrim Fire Station. He then took up promotion as Watch Commander for the Retained section in January 1995 and is still enjoying serving his home town of Antrim 50 years later.
'Privilege to serve the people of Antrim'
At the ceremony, Watch Commander Nicholl said: "NIFRS is a big part of my life and I am so proud and honoured to work for an organisation that plays a central role in keeping our community safe.
"It has been a privilege to have served the local people of Antrim and beyond over the last 50 years, working alongside such courageous and dedicated colleagues. I’m fortunate to have enjoyed every minute of my career and I have no doubt it has helped keep me physically and mentally young.
"The role of Firefighters has broadened rapidly over the years. Back when I first joined the Fire Service there was no such thing as breathing apparatus and it was mainly house fires we attended. Nowadays we attend a wide range of emergencies such as fires, road traffic collisions, specialist rescues, flooding incidents and collapsed buildings.
"I would like to thank all the colleagues I have worked with over the last 50 years and my family and friends for their support and patience for when my beeper goes off."
Great ambassador for NIFRS
The presentation was attended by a number of colleagues, past and present, along with members of Nicholl's family.
Gary Thompson, Area Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said: "With over 5 decades of service in protecting the local community, Ronnie is an asset to NIFRS and his many years’ experience attending countless emergency incidents and combined with his open friendly nature make him someone that others naturally turn to for help and advice.
“Ronnie is a true professional, a great ambassador for NIFRS and is a mentor to the other Firefighters. He has a strong team around him and that is testament of his hard work and dedication to NIFRS and the people of Antrim."
The principality's Chief Fire Officer Chris Kerr added that "his [Ronnie’s] love for the job is clear to see" and hoped to see him with NIFRS "for many more years to come".