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Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Kirkham retires 29 June 2007

BRUCE Kirkham will retire from the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service on June 30, having completed 35 years in the Isle of Man Government service.

Home Affairs Minister presents illuminated address to Bruce Bruce, 51, was a clerical officer at the Department of Health and Social Security before joining the Island’s Fire Service in March 1983. After eight years as a firefighter, he started to progress through the ranks and has served in every senior management role up to Deputy Chief Officer.

He was due to retire last summer but stayed on for the Centenary TT Festival and to see through the IoM Fire and Rescue Service’s assessment by Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate.

Home Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle MHK paid tribute to Bruce’s dedication and professionalism to the Fire and Rescue Service throughout his 24 years service. He also stated:

‘Bruce’s enthusiasm and commitment inspires all those he comes into contact with, both within the Department and across Government, none more so than when he’s in discussion on the role of the Fire and Rescue Service in the community. Bruce is a true gentleman and in my short time in the Department as Minister, it has been a great pleasure to have worked with him and I would like to record my personal thanks for all his hard work and support to the Department. Finally, I would like to wish him and his family all the very best for the future.’

Looking back over his career, Bruce commented:

‘The service has expanded and I’ve seen huge changes in operational procedures, in appliances and equipment, including personal protective equipment. It bears no relation to the service I joined except the character of the people is the same. Firefighters are still a special breed and that will probably be the hardest thing to leave behind – it’s having colleagues as friends who you’re life depends on and who depend on you.’

Bruce served for 10 years on the National Fire Service Examination Board, initially assessing practical examinations in Merseyside, Cheshire and the Island, before becoming the first person from the Island’s brigades to be appointed a national assessor for written papers, marking the human resource management and health and safety papers for the whole of the UK. He also served from 1995-2004 on the UK’s North West Health and Safety Committee of the Fire and Rescue Service.

‘The main benefit was having an impact on the Service nationally, making a contribution in a wider sphere of influence,’ he said. ‘A clear benefit was mixing with senior officers of other brigades which built up personal and professional relationships you could call on for advice. ‘The high point of my career is the immense satisfaction of seeing people who I have worked alongside, mentored and encouraged progress through the ranks, reaching their potential. I suppose the big thing about leadership is that if you do it properly you do yourself out of a job. I am leaving a service of high morale and a high degree of professionalism, and it gives me enormous satisfaction that I played a part in that.’

Bruce is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Jan and children Jamie, 12, and Beth, nine, at home in Glen Vine. He added:

‘After a period of R&R (rest and recreation) and catching up on DIY, I will re-evaluate my future. I still want to make a contribution to the community in some way but I’m content to see what transpires. I feel I’ve given a lot to the Service and now it’s time to re-focus and spend some time with my family, who have been a great source of support and encouragement to me throughout my career.
‘I have been invited to speak at a CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) Resilience conference in London in September and there’s a possibility of taking up charity work overseas developing fire services under the auspices of Operation Florian or the 911 Foundation, started by ex-firefighters to help fire services in developing countries. Although I’m retiring I’ll always be a firefighter and it would be nice to continue to contribute in some way.’

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