Larne fireman retires after 36 years

Paul Johnston receives a certificate from Watch Commander Tommy Torbitt for his retirement. INLT-20-719-con

Paul Johnston receives a certificate from Watch Commander Tommy Torbitt for his retirement. INLT-20-719-con

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Larne Fire Station’s Crew Commander Paul Johnston has retired after three-and-a-half decades of saving lives in the local area.

Local man Paul joined the fire service in July 1979 and has dedicated the past 36 years to serving the community as a part-time fire fighter.

The team at Larne Fire Station pictured receiving new boots. INLT-20-723-con

The team at Larne Fire Station pictured receiving new boots. INLT-20-723-con

Since joining the service, Paul has been involved in every type of emergency.

He revealed: “We have had everything from a cat stuck up a tree to people in the local river, stuck in rocks and car crashes.

“Recently we had to rescue the son of an ex sub-officer who had fallen and broken his leg, and the first thing we said to him was: ‘Your mother’s been looking for you.’ It’s stories like that that stick in your mind.

Comradeship plays a vital role in the team’s effectiveness.

“My colleagues have become great friends and we have had many a character at the station,” said Paul.

“I have made life-long friends. Some incidents are not nice and you can speak to a crew member or to the trained counsellors. When your colleague is your means of escape and you are his all disagreements are left outside.”

On the night of his retirement on May 6, Paul, who also works at Michelin in Ballymena, says he was an “emotional 0wreck.” He now plans to dedicate more time to Larne Lifeboat, where he has volunteered for 20 years.

He commented: “I would like to thank my wife Mandy and my sons Stuart and Stephen, for putting up with all the times I have had to disappear, wrecking carefully-made plans. I would also like to thank all the previous and current firefighters for their support and comradeship over the years.”