01:05AM, Wednesday 16 October 2013
A veteran firefighter who joined to avoid life in an office is back behind a desk - running Berkshire's fire service.
Andy Fry, 47, has taken over as the county's chief fire officer - responsible for the safety of millions.
It is a challenging time for the father-of-four who was formerly the service's Director of Public Protection at Suffolk.
Firefighters are planning a second strike on Saturday in protest against Government plans to raise the age of retirement from 55 to 60.
It will be for night shift crews and from 6.30-11.30pm.
While Windsor people are watching anxiously to see how the sale of the fire station in St Marks Road works out - after the Royal Borough agreed to pay for a replacement building at Tinkers Lane.
Andy echoes his predecessor in warning that further economic constraints might change everything but he insists: "I am committed to the new station in Windsor."
He can also sympathise with firefighters involved in the current dispute with the government, although he believes it is practical for firefighters to work into their late 50s - given the support and backing of the service and the chance to switch if necessary to vital remedial work.
Andy joined the fire service 26 years ago. He said: "I did not leave school intending to do this. I trained as a management accountant with an insurance company but realised I did not want to spend my life in an office.
Here I am, back behind a desk but I make sure I still go out to meet operational units."
Although he stopped going out to fires 10 years ago, memories remain vivid of his firefighting days in Southend.
He said: "I remember a house where we rescued several people. When you sit with a cup of tea realising that people are alive who would not be if it had not been for you and your colleagues, it makes you think."
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