Two Burford firefighters are celebrating a combined 80-years with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, making them one the longest serving duos on the watch.

Steve Edginton reached his 40-years’ career milestone this week. Close friend and colleague Charlie Williams is a few months ahead, already into his 41st year.

On-call firefighters normally have full-time jobs outside of the service; Steve is a self-employed builder.

But regardless of the project he’s on, he knows he will have to leave at a moment’s notice when the next emergency call comes.

Over the years, Steve has responded to hundreds of calls, saving lives at many accidents and during other emergency incidents.

He remembers the day the local Bull Hotel caught fire, in the 1980’s.

Steve recalls: “My wife and I had just arrived back home from holidaying in Cornwall, so I wasn’t even on the on-call rota.

“But hearing the commotion outside, I leaped into action, reporting to the duty officer at the scene. It was personal too; my wife’s manager and his children lived above the hotel.

“The fire completely gutted the building but thankfully no lives were lost. An incident so close to home makes you appreciate the role of fire and rescue; and why I do what I do as an on-call officer.”

Steve is a long-time resident of Burford and is a popular face in the community. He joined Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service as an on-call firefighter in 1980.

Marking 40 years’ service, he is keen to pay tribute to his wife, Sue.

“When we enjoy a quiet evening together or when we go out locally for an evening meal; we know our plans could be disrupted at any moment by my emergency pager. We’ve come to accept these ‘no notice’ interruptions, but I am, and always will be grateful for the understanding from Sue. Thank you.”

Chief Fire Officer, Rob MacDougall, said: “For an on-call firefighter to mark their 40 years’ service is a huge achievement, one that is not reached by many in the UK. However, it’s not unusual in Oxfordshire, especially at Burford.

“Steve and Charlie have delivered a first-class service to the community of Burford for a combined 80 years. I would like to congratulate and thank them for their excellent commitment to our service over four decades.

“Being an on-call firefighter is a rewarding job, but needs a massive commitment. They each provide the community with 120 hours of their time every week – that’s five full days and nights. An inspiration to all of us. Fantastic role models.”

For further information about how to become an on-call firefighter, like Steve and Charlie, visit the website: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/oncallfirefighters or email fire.recruitment@oxfordshire.gov.uk