Long-serving Sidmouth fire fighter retires

Sidmouth Art exhibition at Kennaway House. Rob Crisp some of his art work. Picture by Alex Walton. R

Sidmouth Art exhibition at Kennaway House. Rob Crisp some of his art work. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 0003-50-13AW. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on Photo Orders - Credit: Archant

One of Devon’s longest-serving firefighters has retired from the service after attending thousands of incidents over nearly four decades.

Station watch commander Rob Crisp has been battling blazes, attending accidents and offering advice to help keep Sidmouth safe for some 36 years, writes Stephen Sumner.

But now the lifesaver is turning to his easel as he retires to focus on his painting and is looking forward to a much-deserved holiday.

“I would like to think I was a community firefighter rather than a national firefighter,” he said. “It gets into your blood after a while.

“It’s very rewarding – you feel as though you are helping, even if you’re just giving safety advice.

“Sidmouth fire station is a huge asset to the town and it’s been able to keep going through all the cutbacks.”

Not one to want to sound ‘pompous or big-headed’, he remained modest about his many years of service and hopes to quietly retire.

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He added: “I’ll miss the team, they’re a great bunch, but it’s time for me to look forward and move on. Retiring will let me focus on my painting – I’ve been doing it all my life, but they are complete opposites in a way.”

In a firefighting career spanning four decades, he joined a recruitment drive and served for three years in the small Hampshire village that was his previous home.

Rob, who is originally from Guildford in Surrey, first came to Sidmouth with a theatre company as a scenery painter and worked at the Manor Pavilion.

He fell in love with the town and returned, soon joining the fire crew.

Now in his sixties, he lives in Alexandria Road with Mary, his wife of 46 years, who is also retiring this year.

They have three children and four grandchildren.

The couple are planning a trip see relatives in Australia – something being on call meant they have been unable to do for years.

The fire service is still seeking Rob’s replacement, but he said Sidmouth’s station has several strong candidates.

He has been both a student and teacher of art, had his work displayed at the Royal Academy Summer Show, and is the president of the Otter Vale Art Society.

He will be exhibiting his paintings in a solo show at Kennaway House in September before joining a two-man show in a Buckinghamshire gallery in October.