Time To Sign Off...

Jon Southgate is a Station Commander, his role being that of Deputy District Commander of the South District of Suffolk’s Fire & Rescue Service

Hello again and welcome to my final article for Waterfront Life.

As you read this, I’ll already have left Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, my last day being 22nd September after nearly 33 years in the job as both On Call (part-time) and full time. I have to say, I’m as passionate about the job as I was on day one and am genuinely sad to be leaving. 

When I first joined, I was running my own furniture making and antique restoration business & joined part time at Princes St fire station. After 2½ years, I joined full time and my first posting was to Haverhill which meant moving across Suffolk. After 13 months, I was transferred back to Ipswich and started on Green watch at Princes St. Experiences during this time, my first fatality (it never gets any easier), gaining success to the next rank, taking an appliance to an incident in charge of it and the crew to name but a few. Various watch changes, temporary and permanent promotions saw me take on the rank of Crew Commander then Watch Commander at both Princes St and Colchester Rd stations. I took on my first Officer role in 2007 in our Training & Development team overseeing the recruitment, career development and training records for our firefighters. I represented the Service at regional & national meetings so it really expanded my horizons!

I then moved into our Fire Prevention team overseeing over 100 staff dealing with home safety, which again, was incredibly rewarding and involved dealing with partner agencies to ensure that we all looked after elderly, vulnerable Suffolk residents together in the best way possible. I then became Youth Engagement and Road Traffic Collision reduction manager in the Prevention team working with some truly inspirational people. In particular, two ladies who had each lost a child in separate vehicle collisions as the innocent party. These two ladies regularly shared their heartache with young drivers in the hope of trying to bring home the realisation that there are serious consequences to poor or dangerous driving. 

For the last 4½ years, I’ve been running six fire stations in the South of Suffolk as a Station Commander, again with over 100 staff which has its daily challenges around maintaining fire appliance availability so we can provide the best cover for the people of Suffolk, whether that be on the roads or in their homes.

I’ll finish by saying, thank you for reading my articles. I hope you’ve enjoyed them and they have relayed how diverse our role is. Stay safe – never think “it won’t happen to me” – plan ahead and take precautions. Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service are there to help; to Prevent, Protect and Respond!