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One of London's first black firefighters gets long service' award

PUBLISHED: 13:00 14 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:03 05 October 2010

Leslie... 20 years protecting East London

Leslie... 20 years protecting East London

ONE of London's first black firefighters has been presented with a Long Service award by the Fire Commissioner after 20 years serving in East London. Leslie Bowman quit a secure office job to join the London Fire Brigade in 1989

By Mike Brooke

ONE of London's first black firefighters has been presented with a Long Service award by the Fire Commissioner after 20 years serving in East London.

Leslie Bowman quit the comforts of a secure office job to join the London Fire Brigade in 1989.

"I was a bit anxious as I was one of the few black firefighters joining the Brigade at that time," he recalls. "I had a good nine-to-five office job, but wanted to do something more for the community."

Les has been assigned to several fire stations in his 20 years, including Whitechapel, Barking and now Kingsland in Dalston where he is station manager. He also spent five years in the Brigade's Southwark HQ promoting equality and diversity.

"One day I can be tackling fire in a garage full of gas cylinders and another be visiting people's homes checking their fire alarms," he added.

"I wouldn't have imagined 20 years ago going into schools to encourage girls to consider becoming firefighters. But now London has more than 200 women firefighters."

Leslie was presented with his award by Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson at a ceremony at the brigade's Southwark training centre.

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