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Firefighters get 30-year spurs’ serving East Enders

PUBLISHED: 19:24 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:29 05 October 2010

'Longt servers' Dave Cocker (left) and Paul Skorzewski with their awards

'Longt servers' Dave Cocker (left) and Paul Skorzewski with their awards

SENIOR firefighter Dave Coker has won his ’30 year’ spurs for looking after London’s East End, one of two East London officers receiving awards for 30 years’ service to the London Fire Brigade this week. He has worked his way up from an ordinary fireman when he joined up in 1978 to Watch manager at the busy Bow fire-station. The other is Paul Skorzewski, crew manager at Plaistow fire station who joined the same year

SENIOR firefighter Dave Coker has won his '30 year' spurs with a long-service award for looking after London's East End for the past three decades.

He is one of two East London fire officers receiving awards for 30 years' service.

Dave may be an old hand, but still feels sad passing the scene each day of a Christmas Day blaze a few years ago where a woman pensioner died.

Dave is one of the rare breeds who lives 'on the manor' in Bow and has been at the fire station in Parnell-road, off Roman-road, for 24 years.

That can have its drawbacks, living in the area where you rescue people.

"I was tackling a fire on Christmas Day some years ago, but sadly discovered an elderly lady who had died," he recalls.

"I pass the dwelling several times a week as I live close by. It still brings back memories of sadness."

He has worked his way up from an ordinary fireman when he joined up in 1978 to Watch manager at the busy Bow fire-station in one of East London's 'hot spots' for rescues and tackling fires.

The fire service has changed a lot during his career, he admits, having joined as a 'fireman' and seeing though all the equality changes in its ranks.

"Everything from equipment, attitudes and public perceptions has changed," he said.

"But I don't think of my time in the Fire Brigade as 'work'.

"I've enjoyed it and learned life skills along the way like comradeship and communicating with the East End community we serve."

Dave has served at Shadwell two miles away and at Millwall on the Isle of Dogs as well as his long stint at Bow.

The second 'longer server' is Paul Skorzewski, crew manager at Plaistow fire station, who joined the Brigade in 1977.

He spent most of his time at Clerkenwell fire station before becoming a trainer and then crew manager at Plaistow.

Paul recalled: "We had to manually ring a bell attached to the fire engine on a call when I first joined.

"The equipment carried on fire engines to deal with road traffic accidents was not much more than a toolbox.

"But I doubt if there are many who, after working for the same firm for 30 years, still look forward to coming to work."

The long service awards were presented to the two by Sir David Brewer, the Queen's Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, at the Fire Brigade's HQ at Southwark.

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