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My Recruitment Blog from 1977

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Then & now

I am an old fart and retired around 13 years ago. A lot has changed in the fire service over 40+ decades, and thank goodness for that. Staying in touch on this site keeps me on top of many of those changes and I really enjoy the blogs some of you have complied during training.

When I joined, the web is what you found in your shed and the forum was a pornographic magazine! The word ‘blog’ would have made no sense at all.  But I reckon I would have written one if it were possible then.


However I did keep a diary and I found it last week during a mega clear out. I have enjoyed reading some of it. I will not bore you with a day by day account as its irrelevant and frankly, I didn’t write that much. But I did want to relay one story that was not amusing at the time, but is now.


On the train home from Southwark Training Centre I saw Jane (name changed to protect the no-so innocent) get on a carriage ahead of me most nights.  I knew her from school and she was bloody lovely -  in fact well out of my league. But we were not at school now! I was now in the fire service, so obviously irresistible to the opposite sex. This somewhat naive based confidence soon saw me heading to the carriage ahead of my usual one the next evening and wait patiently for her station to arrive.

Fast forwarding a bit and the my magic had worked. We had enjoyed a few dates by now. On our last date I was excited to hear that her parents were away for the weekend…… next weekend!! When she invited me for a home cooked dinner I wasn’t entirely sure what ingredients would be served up for supper, but I lived in hope.

BA Course

Friday came and as usual I was up at 5am to take the early train to central London. I was on the two-week BA element of my initial training now. For some odd reason (I still don't understand) I was sent to my station following basic training with no BA input. Some weeks after I had been on the run, I had to go back to do this part of my training. In the time on station, I had been on the odd fire,  one dreadful RTC and even a train crash! I was hungry for more operational fun, but frustratingly, off I went to Paddington for the BA input.

I had had a poor sleep the night before. The prospect of the weekend with Jane playing (heavily) on my 18 year old testosterone filled mind and with the prospect of  final BA assessments today had caused stress that was noisy enough during the night to seriously disturb my sleep. But I arrived at Paddington bright and early as usual. The assessments were tough, but were over in the morning thank goodness, and we all learned we had passed after lunch. Only one more drill to do, and it was a big one.

To help us understand the dangerous effects of heat and especially humidity , we were to be beasted in a hot and sticky room. Dressed in full PPE and carrying heavy weights, we marched around a small space. Up and over a small timber bridge with steps for ages. We were then told to hold the weights above our heads and carry on. The instructors wanted us to be close to collapse.

Some clever gits like me tweaked our ‘constant flow valves’ - a device that supplied additional air - to use up our supply a bit quicker and thereby end this hard work. But when  the low pressure whistle sounded on my set, the instructor simply remove a speech diaphragm from my facemask and we carried on. But now inhaling the hot, humid air which made the situation far worse. 

The instructors were constantly checking us. our faces with a torch looking for signs of exhaustion, and I admit, it was tough going. Then suddenly it was over. We all assembled in a classroom and sat still wearing our BA sets as we were knackered. We listened to a lecture which explained that the feelings we just experienced were signs of heat stress and potential collapse. The instructors impressed upon us, if we felt that in the job, we met get out.

I must be honest, I didnt have a clue what the hell they meant. I felt really tired, but relatively OK and 100 miles away from collapsing. What a bunch of wimps I was working with, complete tossers. How can they be close to collapse? Then when I went to stand up in my fire gear and BA set, my legs turned to jelly and it was really difficultly to keep balanced.  It was a really important lesson learned. After removing the PPE and BA, we sat, rehydrated for a while and consumed some hideous salt tablets. Then a shower and the course was over. We all went our separate ways and I never saw most of the guys again.

A night to remember (?)

Leaving Paddington a bit later than I had planned I was on my way to meet Jane. It was crowded and hot in the train and I felt pretty crap standing in the heat after the experience in the BA chamber that afternoon. But another shower and some cheap after shave later, I was on my way in my MG to see Jane and enjoy that meal. Sadly, there was no meal as her car had broken down and she hadn't got the shopping, so I suggested we eat out.

OMG, she looked amazing and she most certainly made heads turn as we entered a bar then a smart restaurant. At 18 years old, she wasn't the most well traveled young woman. She revealed that this was the first time a guy had taken her to a restaurant and she had really enjoyed it. It was a lovely place and a really romantic night. There was no doubt we were going to continue the fun back at hers - the first time we would have done so.

It was about 1am as we sat in her living room lit with candlelight. Soft music was playing and I enjoyed a couple of drinks as I didnt have to worry about driving now. Then suddenly, all I remember are the main room lights going on. I had no idea why and for a few seconds I was really confused…….. and then it hit me……… I had fallen asleep.

Not only had I been less than chivalrous by falling asleep as she was ‘waking up’ (so to speak), but she had had a little difficulty waking me up and had to resort to vigorously shaking me. Now she was properly pissed off. Seconds after waking up and being blinded by a 100w lightbulb, I heard her say;

“I think you better go now”.

I was so embarrassed/humiliated and a little drunk. While I waited for my cab to arrive, I started to explain why I was so exhausted …….. but she didnt want to know. And that was the end of that relationship even before it had started.


10 years later and someone had arranged a school reunion in a pub. I met Jane again. During the evening we found ourselves chatting and this time she did listen as to why I dozed off. She was super sympathetic as we laughed at the stupidity of that evening.

So while I am grateful for the BA instructors for providing me with the invaluable skills to recognise the signs of heat exhaustion, they will never know how they messed things up for me that night…...... the bastards😉

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I will leave the book to Steve, I am going straight to Netflix 😉

I have already cast Kate Winset as Jane, Danny Dyer is playing Steve, but I am struggling to cast the actor to play me 🤔

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6 hours ago, Messyshaw said:

I will leave the book to Steve, I am going straight to Netflix 😉

I have already cast Kate Winset as Jane, Danny Dyer is playing Steve, but I am struggling to cast the actor to play me 🤔

Danny Dyer is much too posh to play me!!! 😉

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