Former Firefighter relives his service days as his wish to “go on a fire engine one last time” comes true

A former Firefighter who spent more than 20 years serving the people of Merseyside has had his wish to “go on a fire engine one last time” come true, thanks to a visit from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS).

Les Storey, 84, joined the fire service in 1959 as part of White Watch, working at stations including Durning Road, Bankhall and West Derby Road.

The great-grandfather was “made up” when he was visited by Firefighters from Kirkby Community Fire Station.

The crew sat with Les whilst he reminisced about his firefighter days, sharing old photographs and tales of how things used to be.

He was then taken outside to where one of MFRS’ brand new Scania fire engines awaited, to which Les said: “It’s a bit different from the ones we used to have!”

After sitting inside the engine, Les tried on a modern day fire tunic, as well as the Crew Manager’s helmet – similar rankings to those the former Lead Firefighter would have worn – and was surprised at just how heavy it was.

He was then shown some of the engine’s equipment – including the hose reels and cutting gear used during road traffic collisions.

Son Paul, who recalled his own fond memories of growing up as part of the wider fire service family, said: “You have absolutely made my dad’s day – he has loved this, seeing a new fire engine and meeting the crew. Thank you so much.”

The visit came after staff at Aaron Grange Care Home in Huyton, where Les lives with wife Mary, created a ‘Make a Wish Tree’ as part of National Art Week.

Activities Co-ordinator Abigail Murphy explained: “Rather than just creating a piece of art, we wanted to create something that could be used by our residents – that’s when we came up with the ‘Make a Wish Tree’. Some of our residents wished to go out for a shopping trip like they used to when they were more independent, whilst another made a wish to go and watch an Everton game.

“As a former firefighter, Les’ only wish was to sit in a fire engine one last time and we’re so happy that we’ve been able to work with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service to make this wish come true – we can’t thank them enough.”

Born in 1935, Les grew up in Darlington and joined the Army was soon as he was able. It was there that he met good friend Harry from Liverpool, who would soon introduce him to sister Mary – Les’ now wife of nearly 60 years.

After moving to Merseyside to be with Mary, Les spent time working as a butcher before applying to be a Firefighter in the late 1950s. He retired from operational duty in 1981.

Crew Manager Mark Tomlinson said: “We really enjoyed our visit with Les and found the tales of his service really fascinating. It’s always really interesting to hear memories like this as a lot has changed since then. Spending time with Les was really inspirational and we’re so glad we were able to make his wish come true. What might have only been a couple of hours for us will have surely made a massive difference to him – and that’s something we’re really honoured to have been a part of.”