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‘If you hear the bell, grab your trousers’ - Long-serving fireman retires

Will Cox, with his commemorative axe, has retired after 58 years with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Will Cox, with his commemorative axe, has retired after 58 years with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

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Almost 60 years have passed since Will Cox first walked into a north Norfolk fire station.

Will Cox, with his commemorative axe, has retired after 58 years with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Will Cox, with his commemorative axe, has retired after 58 years with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

The 78-year-old, who has just retired from Norfolk Fire and Rescue, can remember when the business of putting out blazes was somewhat different to what it is today.

Mr Cox, from Cromer, said: "There were sirens in the town which went off when you had a fire call during the day. We also had bells installed in our houses, which would ring if there was a call-out at night."

He said the saying was: "If you hear the bell, grab your trousers and run like hell!"

Mr Cox spent his first four years at Mundesley Fire Station before transferring to Cromer, where he has been ever since.

Will Cox has retired after 18 years as caretaker at Cromer Fire Station. Picture: Lauren De BoiseWill Cox has retired after 18 years as caretaker at Cromer Fire Station. Picture: Lauren De Boise

He had the role of retained firefighter alongside his job as a crab fisherman from 1962, and served as Cromer station officer from 1985 to 2002. Mr Cox then retired, but has stayed on as station caretaker for the past 18 years.

Mr Cox said he would miss the station and its team, where there were still four or five crew members who were with the service when he was a firefighter.

He said: "I would love my time again as a firefighter, but I feel I'm too old to learn everything they have to learn today. The firemen also have to be a lot fitter these days."

Mr Cox, who was made an MBE for his service, said relaying messages was also more difficult in times gone by.

Will Cox, has retired after 58 years with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Will Cox, has retired after 58 years with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

He said: "When we went out on a fire float we used to have to ring a bell as we went along.

"We had no way of communicating out on a shout. You had to know if there was a neighbour with a telephone or if there was a public telephone in the vicinity so you could call back to the station.

"Now it has changed very much and the fire service have to be aware of all sorts of things."

Mr Cox, who is married with children and stepchildren, said being on call 24/7 meant regular interruptions to family life.

The commemorative axe awarded to Will Cox after he retired from being a firefighter. Picture: Lauren De Boise.The commemorative axe awarded to Will Cox after he retired from being a firefighter. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

He said: "You could be just sat down to your dinner, but you would have to leave it if there was a call-out - whether it was a Monday, Tuesday or Christmas Day."

Mr Cox said the worst experience of his career was fighting a devastating blaze at RAF Neatishead in 1966, in which three firemen lost their lives.

Mr Cox said he planned to carry on his hobby of making and repairing crab pots for active fishermen.

There will be a presentation for Mr Cox at Cromer Fire Station on Monday, February 24.

Will Cox has retired after 58 years at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Will Cox has retired after 58 years at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Will Cox meetingThe Queen when he was made an MBE. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Will Cox meetingThe Queen when he was made an MBE. Picture: Lauren De Boise.


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