Last shout for Biggleswade firefighter Eddie after 43 years dedicated to serving his town
A stalwart firefighter who has served his hometown of Biggleswade loyally for 43 years – hardly straying more than five minutes from the station in case he got called out – retired last week.
Eddie Wing, 60, has worked as a retained firefighter at Biggleswade Fire Station since he was 16 – a service which equates exactly to 43 years, seven months and 16 days.
Biggleswade born and bred, Eddie went to Rose Lane and Homemead schools before joining the fire service just after his 16th birthday. He jokes that he lost his application form twice.
Inspired by his sister who went to the fire station as part of work for a Girl Guides badge, he later went along with a friend’s dad who was a firefighter and was reeled in.
He worked his way steadily through the ranks at the busy station, now located in Chestnut Avenue, becoming a leading fireman in 1989 and station officer in 1994.
On retirement he will have been in charge of the station for an incredible 23 years.
He told the Comet: “It’s been really interesting, I’ve met a lot of people and seen a lot of changes.
“When I first started all the fittings on the hoses were brass and for one of my first jobs I was handed a tin of Brasso to polish them up. Now they are all made of aluminium.
“The hoses were canvas back then and we had to hang them up through the drill tower to dry them out if they got wet.”
Throughout his long career Eddie has been called to everything from plane crashes at the Old Warden aerodrome to field fires and serious crashes on the A1(M).
The biggest shout he remembers is the Bedford School fire of 1979 when nearly every pump in the county was called out.
The Asda fire in Luton in 2017 was another major call.
He says: “We have pocket alerters and when you get to the station you never know what you are going to face.
“If it’s a big shout the adrenaline starts running and you start thinking about what it’s going to be like when you get there.
“Sometimes you get a call at three in the morning. Just before Christmas I had to dump my partner Caroline in the supermarket because I got a call.”
Eddie remembers bizarre and sometimes funny calls too. He recalls dealing with a child who had got themselves entangled in a push bike and a dog with its leg stuck in a drain.
“You think you’ve seen everything but then something new comes along”, he says.
Eddie will also be missed as the popular driver of the fire service’s horsedrawn steam pump fire engine, which he has shown at events all over the country.
He also remembers the tragic calls which have left their mark on him, like the tragic time a woman reversed over her child.
Eddie is planning to travel with his partner Caroline after retirement because he says it’s the first time in years he hasn’t had to be less than five minutes away from the fire station.
He also plans to volunteer as - well a fireman - on steam trains to indulge his passion for everything steam-related.
After 43 years you might think he would have had enough of fires, but as he’s proved in that time, he’s no quitter.