A Mildenhall firefighter is hanging up his overalls after 20 years on call.
Gary Peachey, 40, joined the team at Mildenhall Fire Station as a retained fireman when he was 20 and has since tackled hundreds of incidents in the district, including the blaze at Centre Parcs in Elveden in 2002.
Last month he took the decision to retire from his post and dedicate more time to his family’s funeral directing business.
Father-of-three Gary said: “It has been a privilege to serve the team at Mildenhall.
“Working with the crew there is like being part of a large family. You look out for each other and the situations you work in draw you closer.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I’m sad to go but there comes a time when you have to make the decision.
“It’s a part time job with full time commitments. I’ve done it all my adult life, and it’s been a huge part of my life.”
As a teenager Gary was interested in joining the fire service full time, but his involvement in the family business meant this was ‘not really an option’.
“It was the business which first introduced me to the station and got me interested in it,” he said.
“It is one of the busiest on-call stations in Suffolk, so we saw a lot of action and incidents over the years.”
Gary said his experiences with his ten crew members ranged from car fires and major blazes to rescuing a ferret from underneath a shed and helping an inebriated man down from a high climb.
He has held the second highest position at the station, crew commander, for the past 17 years.
He said: “As a firefighter you witness some things that no one should have to see, but witnessing them together brings you closer as a team.”
Now he has hung up his boots for the last time, Gary plans to concentrate on the family business as well as spending more time with wife Emma and children Melissa, Oliver and William.
“I joined the fire station before I was married to Emma, so she and my kids have only ever known me in the service,” he said.
“It is nice for them to have me around a bit more. Emma was quite happy for me to carry on, but it just felt like the right time to go - 20 is a nice round number!”