The retirement of retained firefighter Martin Hancock – after 29 years of protecting the population of Corsham – has ended a long association between his family and the town’s fire service.

Mr Hancock, 54, stood down last month and, after some readjustment, has now settled back into regular life.

He said: “It’s a bit like getting out of jail. I don’t need to take my pager with me now and I’m free to go where I want.

“I found that very strange at first, but I am getting used to it.”

He joined the town’s retained fire crew to follow in the footsteps of his father, Maurice, a firefighter for 27 years who retired the same year his son started. They worked together briefly.

Mr Hancock said: “The changes while I’ve been here have been tremendous, when you look at the fire engines and kit they have now.

“The biggest job I was involved in was not long after I joined. There was a big fire at Westing-house in Chippenham in 1987. I wore breathing apparatus in there and, for a young firefighter, going in was a real shock. We had to evacuate very quickly.

“I was also quite well-known for getting the fire engine stuck in fields; I did that at least three times when I first started.

“The biggest pleasure you get out of the job is when you go away from an incident and you think you have helped that person, whether from a car accident or a chimney fire.”

Mr Hancock, the site manager at Corsham Regis School, is now looking forward to spending more time with wife Julie and children Victoria, 12, and Richard, five.

He said: “My wife has had to put up with a lot. When the alarm goes when your dinner goes on the table, you have to shoot off.

“I have been proud of the work we have done for the Fire Service Charity, which has always been a real family effort.”