FIREFIGHTERS in Haslemere bid farewell to one of their on-call colleagues on Tuesday after 40 years’ service.

Paul Bartlett joined the town’s fire service on June 15, 1981, before taking part in his final parade on June 22.

Attended by Haslemere town mayor, Cllr Simon Dear, Paul’s 40 years was commemorated with a traditional parade and the handing over of a ceremonial axe.

Waverley borough commander John Cooper led the farewell celebrations.

He said: “I think it is really important that everybody here recognises the sacrifice made. Just the level of commitment given to Haslemere is phenomenal.

He added: “Paul has helped to keep Haslemere safe for 40 years, on more incidents than he would probably care to remember and recently became Surrey’s longest-serving front-line fire fighter.

“He has been a key, integral part of Haslemere’s crew, dedicated at keeping the fire engine on the run throughout his 40 years’ service, at times going above and beyond the call of duty.”

John recognised Paul’s efforts for Haslemere and the wider community, keeping “close ties” with Haslemere’s twin town Horb-am-Necker which he regularly visited.

Deputy chief fire officer Dan Quin added: “Spending ten years in any career is such an achievement.

“I would like to thank you on behalf of the fire service for your time and effort.

“It is really great to see everyone here to commemorate your contribution.”

Looking back on his time in the fire service, Paul said he joined after some friends also joined up.

He said: “Looking back, I must admit I did not think I would be here for 40 years.

“I think it is time, really.”

During his 40 years, Paul recalled numerous visits to rural areas such as Thursley and Chobham commons, as well as a fitness test undertaken by firefighters every year.

But despite retiring as an on-call firefighter, Paul will continue to work as part of the fire service, just not on the front line.

The team celebrated with an evening of football and a takeaway, with Paul receiving a final message from the control room reading: “Happy retirement FF Bartlett – thank you for the 40 years of service – you are one of a kind – all the love and respect from us here in control.”