The 59-year-old began his service with the Northern Ireland Fire Department in November 1991 with White Watch at the Northland Road Fire Station, under the direction of NCO Phil Devine and Station Officer John Gurney.
Married to Annette, father of four and grandfather of eleven, he hopes to enjoy his retirement by gardening and playing golf, while dedicating part of his evenings to his music.
During his time with the fire service, John served 15 years with the Watch, earning him the nickname “Elvis” due to his rock star status playing in the many pubs and clubs of Derry and Donegal. .
In 2006 he then joined the Community Development Department at West Crescent Link headquarters, as the Northern Ireland Fire Department became the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service. In this role, he worked closely with many groups across the community to improve fire safety awareness and education.
Indeed, as a specialist firefighter response officer, John has played a key role in the protection and advocacy of young people and vulnerable people in the community while working closely with colleagues from Youth Justice. Agency, the Western Education and Library Board, and the PSNI, among others.
A few years ago, the affable firefighter was also nominated for the âPerson of the Yearâ award for his service to the community.
The Coshquin native is leaving the service in good hands, as his son Noel has followed in his footsteps, now also stationed at the Crescent Link fire station on the waterfront.
John has faced many dangerous, difficult and distressing situations during his 30 years in the fire service and answered many difficult calls.
âI have a lot of stories, some good and some not so good, but I come away with a lot of positive experiences over the years. It’s hard to leave, but retirement concerns us all.
Reflecting on his service, he added, âI’ve had time to reflect on what I’m most proud of about my time here – and I would say I’m proud to have made a difference within our communities and of our service.
âI have worked with brilliant people.
âThere are many reasons I have been in the service for so long – but one of the main reasons is because of who we are as a service and the culture that is here.
While a firefighter, John responded to a number of incidents that he admits he will never forget, including a number of serious traffic collisions and rescues.
Group Deputy Commander Kevin McLaughlin of Western Area Command praised John’s contribution to the service.
He said: âJohn has been a dedicated member of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service for 30 years and I have had the pleasure of working with him in several roles.
âHis high work ethic and commitment to the role he played have been inspiring and I know he has been a very credible and valued officer who has produced significant results for the communities of Derry and the District.
âWe all wish him a good retirement. “