Retained Watch Manager retires after serving Worthing residents for four decades

During Steve Crockett’s time in the service he attended the large fire at Warnes Hotel and multiple incidents during the Great Storm of 1987.

A retained Watch Manager is retiring on Christmas Eve after serving the communities of Worthing for 42 years.

Steve Crockett joined West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service as a retained firefighter on 22 September 1980 whilst working full-time at British Telecom (BT).

In 2009 Steve then joined the service in a wholetime position where he became a Retained Liaison Officer until November this year. He then became the Watch Manager in the Service Delivery Centre – a non-operational role which he will continue to carry out after his retirement from being on-call.

During Steve’s time in the service he attended the large fire at Warnes Hotel and multiple incidents during the Great Storm of 1987. Reflecting on the storm, Steve said: “I got my first callout at 12.15am and I didn’t get back home until 24 hours later due to the volume of calls. I vividly remember the first call to a flat which lost its skylight and the contents of the property was getting sucked out by the wind; we had to crawl around on our hands and knees to protect ourselves from objects flying around the building.”

He then added: “My BT colleague joined the retained unit at Worthing and encouraged me to do the same. I knew very little about it beforehand and I began my career attending jobs wearing fire kit which consisted of plastic leggings, heavy jackets that absorbed water, thin gloves and a yellow cork helmet! Fortunately the personal protective equipment has improved dramatically since those days.

“At the beginning of my career it was a juggling act between being on-call for my main employment, being on-call for the fire service and being a family man, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world – hence why I have been doing the role for 42 years. My wife Liz and our family have been an incredible support, which there has to be for any retained firefighter due to the number of missed family events and spoilt meals. I am now looking forward to spending more time with them moving forward.”

Steve’s son, James Crockett, also decided to follow his father’s footsteps and became a retained firefighter at Worthing in July 2013, before becoming a wholetime firefighter in 2020. Speaking about their careers, James said: “Growing up I would always hear my dad’s pager go off and I’d watch him stop whatever he was doing to dash off and help those in need.

“His passion for helping others always shone through and inspired me to take up a career in the fire service. I feel very proud to have served alongside my dad at Worthing Fire Station for almost a decade, but it’s time for him to take a well-deserved rest and turn off his pager for the last time.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Peter Rickard added: “Steve’s commitment and professionalism will have impacted many lives across the county, but particularly those who live in Worthing and the surrounding areas.

“The most precious thing any of us have is time, and retained firefighters choose to sacrifice theirs in order to help others, and for that reason I am full of complete admiration for Steve and the decades of support he has given to his local community.”

If you are considering a career in the fire service, we are recruiting for retained firefighters across the county. Please visit our website for more information.