A SPECIAL farewell bash at Chilford Hall in Linton - the scene of one of Cambridgeshire’s biggest fires in recent years - has marked the end of the career of the fire officer who was first to attend the fire.
Station commander Steve Elve, 46, of Hadstock, celebrated with friends, colleagues and family as he left Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service after 27 years, serving in both Cambridgeshire and London.
He said: “Even though there is an horrific side to the job, I have loved it.
“It is a job like no other; demanding but outstandingly rewarding, challenging yet satisfying and physically overwhelming at times but fun too!”
Steve was the first fire officer to arrive at the devastating Chilford Hall arson attack in 2012, which destroyed parts of the venue.
He said he was thrilled when new management Langley Larder was able to accommodate the event, putting £500 towards it and making a £500 donation to both of his chosen charities, The Fire Fighters Charity and Parkinson’s UK.
Steve said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to Langley Larder and Chilford Hall for supporting my party; they have been excellent and so helpful.
“Despite losing their main buildings in a devastating fire three years ago, it remains a beautiful venue and the marquee and its facilities are superb.”
Langley Larder took over the running of the Chilford Hall events business and garden rooms in June and generously donated £500 to the event as well as making numerous other arrangements for the party and making a £500 donation to Steve’s charities. Ambient Venue Styling provided chair covers and table centres free of charge too.
Catherine Kearsey, Business Development Manager at Langley Larder, said: “We were so happy that Steve chose Chilford Hall to have his farewell party and we were only too happy to support Steve. The work the fire and rescue service do is amazing and Chilford Hall would not be here today if it wasn’t for people like Steve and the work of the fire crews.”
Steve, a father-of-two, retires from his most recent role as the Training Manager for community fire safety and fire investigation.
He was also one of the Service’s experienced fire investigators and previously worked at Cambridge Fire Station. Prior to joining CFRS, he served in London at Shadwell, Whitechapel, Finchley and Manchester Square fire stations.
Steve said one of his favourite memories of working at CFRS is the friendly people. He said: “Everyone in the organisation, would always have time for a chat.
“The best part of working at CFRS was the operational side of my role. There is no rush like that experienced when you are sent to a building fire and on arrival, it is obvious there is a serious fire in progress.”
Steve has attended thousands of incidents in his 27-year career and as well as being the first officer in attendance at Chilford Hall in 2012, he was also one of the first officers to respond to the Spillers Mill fire in Cambridge in 2010.
Steve continued: “One of the biggest changes I have seen during my time in the Service has been the continued increase in emphasis on community fire safety. When I started in 1988, we only responded to emergency calls. Now, a significant part of the crews’ time is directed towards community fire safety activities.
“There have also been considerable improvements in equipment, such as the sophisticated collision rescue, cutting and spreading gear.
“It’s a vast improvement on the air-powered saw and screwdriver we used in the 1980s.
“I would like to thank everyone I have worked with for making me laugh, for laughing at my jokes, for propping me up when I felt down and for teaching me to stay calm even in the face of carnage and devastation.
“And a big thank you for allowing me to be part of a special job.”
Finally, Steve paid testament to the love and support of his family.
He added: “My career would not have been possible without the sacrifices of my wife and children; Sharon, Isabel, 17, and Aidan, 12, have given up social events, had sleep disrupted and been on their own on many a Christmas, Easter and birthday.
“They have been understanding and accommodating, despite the pressures they have been under. I love them dearly for that.
“I would also like to thank my mum and particularly my dad for being my inspiration in my choice of career.
“Dad spent 31 years in the fire service following in his dad’s footsteps. Three of my four uncles were firefighters too.
“It clearly was my destiny and I guess you could say that I was born to fight fire.”