One of the country's longest serving firefighters hangs up his helmet after nearly half a century

Dave HaresA firefighter from Winscombe Fire Station is bidding farewell to Avon Fire & Rescue Service after 47 years service.

Watch Manager Dave Hares, who is thought to be one of the country’s longest serving firefighters, joined in July 1964 aged just 17 years old.

At the time, Winscombe Fire Station was part of the old Somerset Fire Brigade and Dave was the youngest ever recruit. Although he was officially too young to join, (recruits had to be 18), Dave was accepted due to shortages of fire cover in the village and surrounding areas.

For nearly 70 years there has been a member of the Hares family riding the fire engines at Winscombe. Dave’s father was also a long serving member of the station. He joined on the day Winscombe Fire Station opened during World War II and served the community for over 30 years.

In 1969, Dave was promoted to Leading Firefighter at Winscombe. At the time his father was also a Leading Firefighter and the two rode next to each other, responding to emergencies across the community.

Dave has seen many changes to the fire and rescue service over the years. “It was 14 years after I joined before we had breathing apparatus, so you can tell how long I’ve been in the job,” Dave says.  

Dave, who was a panel beater and sprayer by trade for 22 years, even changed jobs so that he could remain in the village on stand-by for emergencies. He now works as the local undertaker. 

Having served a total of 46 years, Dave has seen a huge variety of jobs, however he’ll always remember his first. He said: “My first call as a new recruit at Winscombe was to a road traffic collision on the A38. Sadly it was a fatal crash - I’ll never forget that day.”

Despite an unforgettable and somewhat daunting first day, Dave has been returning to the station ever since and is well known for his dedication to the job. He’s even been known to vacuum up after a fire in a bid to make the trauma of having a fire seem a little less overwhelming for the home owner. 

Dave, who lives with his wife Jane in Winscombe, said: “Throughout the years there has always been a strong crew at Winscombe. It couldn’t have happened without the many colleagues and friends I’ve worked with, and the support of our families. This is a vital job to the community and long may the station remain in Winscombe.”