Tyne and Wear’s oldest retired fire fighter-102-year-old Joe Dixon - was guest of honour when he opened the new Marley Park fire station during a special ceremony yesterday.
Mr Dixon is the oldest surviving retired firefighter from the ranks of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service serving the region for 25 years from 1939 to 1964.
He was invited to officially open the new Marley Park Community Fire Station on Old Mill Road along with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman, Councillor Tom Wright.
Work on Marley Park Station - which replaces Fulwell Fire Station - began in September last year and the station became fully operational on August 19.
Joe, of Killingworth, North Tyneside, became a firefighter on June 6 1939 initially stationed at Pilgrim Street in Newcastle before joining the RAF in 1943 as a flight engineer with Bomber Command.
After the war he returned to the service in 1945 working at Headlam Street Fire Station where he was sub officer before he took retirement in 1964 after 25 years service.
“I really enjoyed it and couldn’t be more impressed with the reception from everyone in the service,” he said.
“I joined the service when I was 23 and retired when I was 51. It’s changed a lot since then. There are more advanced vehicles and the accommodation is marvellous. The hours have been the biggest change-the hours they do now are a vast improvement. We used to do 72 hours on and 24 hours off. It’s a a very trying job but I enjoyed it. “
Mr Dixon said the biggest fire he remembered in his career was a ship fire on the Monach Bemuda in Hebburn in 1947.
“Modernisation has made the community much safer,” he said. “We used to work with six men on a watch and just 56 men in the whole brigade covering three stations. Back then it was a police and fire station.”