One of the county’s longest serving firefighters has finally hung up his helmet after more than 42 years fantastic service to his local community.
Nigel Gamblen followed his father’s footsteps and joined the Fire & Rescue Service as a retained firefighter at Midhurst in December 1974. Literally thousands of 999 calls later, and after nearly 30 years as Station Commander and Officer in Charge at Midhurst, Nigel is now stepping down.
During his service Nigel has attended some of the largest emergencies in West Sussex, such as the fires at Uppark House and at Sainsbury’s in Chichester. He’s had to deal with major floods, the terrible consequences of road accidents, and his vast experience of attending fires in open countryside like Iping Common has seen him recognised as the ‘wildfire’ expert for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, attending specialist conferences and sharing his expertise by training other Incident Commanders.
In recent years Nigel has also served in ‘wholetime’ roles as a Retained Liaison Officer, and supporting the crewing and availability of other retained crewed fire stations.
Gavin Watts, WSFRS Deputy Chief Fire Officer, paid tribute to Nigel for his long service and outstanding commitment in serving his local community.
“It takes a special dedication from someone to be ready to help and ‘on-call’ for that long, and it certainly feels like the end of an era for the fire station. Nigel really has been ‘Mr Midhurst’ in fire service terms, at the heart of everything we work to achieve in the town, protecting the community with fire safety advice and prevention measures, and responding to emergencies when people needed us most.
“Living in such a rural area, Nigel was usually in charge of the initial fire crews to arrive on the scene and was responsible for dealing with those incidents in the first few vital minutes before reinforcing appliances arrived. His experience and professionalism has no doubt saved lives in the most difficult of circumstances, and there are undoubtedly a significant number of people in the Midhurst area who will be eternally grateful to Nigel and his crew for helping them in their hour of need.
“I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone in WSFRS, and probably the whole community in Midhurst, when I say a genuine ‘thank you’ to Nigel for his outstanding commitment and service.”
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is at the heart of West Sussex County Council's Communities and Public Protection Directorate, working to support communities to become safer, stronger and more resilient through a combination of prevention, protection and response activities.