Watch Manager Keith Jenkins looks back over 42 years of service

WM Keith Jenkins
WM Keith Jenkins

Following 42 years of service, Watch Manager Keith Jenkins, Haverfordwest Fire Station is retiring from his wholetime duties as a Business Fire Safety Officer. 

Keith first joined the Fire and Rescue Service as an apprentice mechanic, with Dyfed County Fire Brigade, at 16 years of age, before becoming an on-call firefighter at Haverfordwest Fire Station in 1983.  

Keith has attended many significant incidents during his career. “I was on the Pointsman ship fire in 1984 and got caught in the third explosion, with two other colleagues. Firefighter Rex Evans, who broke his collar bone and Leading Fireman Brian Tytler who suffered 20% burns to his hands and face during the incident. I was so lucky just to get my helmet blown off and slight burns to my tunic. I also attended the Amoco Tank 11 fire in the same year, what an experience to see that boil over and flames reach over a 1000 ft high. 

In 1985, Keith progressed and joined the wholetime on Red watch Haverfordwest. “On my first night shift I attended the Scoveston Manor House fire. That was a very sad experience and those sad scenes that will stay with me for the rest of my life.  

In February 1996, I attended the Sea Empress oil spill, when she ran aground off the Pembrokeshire coast. I was part of a crew that was involved in manning the fire tugs and we stayed many a night on these tugs in case we were needed. 

I would like to say I am saddened to leave the wholetime at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service. It has been a privilege and an honour to be part of such a great Service and Team. During my time in the fire service I have been very fortunate to have gained experiences in so many different avenues and fields of this Service. 

I have worked alongside many great managers and colleagues over the years and have been fortunate to have worked in four different commands, which has given me not only great professional development but personnel development too.  

Amongst the hardest thing I have done during my time with the fire and rescue service is becoming a fire brigade diver. I trained and qualified with Northumbria Police, over a course of 8 weeks, and attended many incidents over the years. 

I was also in charge of Pontardawe Fire Station during the Gleision Colliery disaster in Pontardawe, where sadly four people lost their lives in this tragic incident. 

The fire service has been a massive part of my life. Having served the community for nearly 42 years, this has been a hard decision for me to make, so, at this moment in time, I will be continuing to work as a Watch Manager in charge of the On-call crews at Haverfordwest. I believe that the knowledge I have gained will carry me in good stead for the new role I have accepted with the NHS, as a Fire Safety Advisor in Hywel Dda Health trust.  

I cannot thank the Fire Service enough for all that they have done for me, I will sincerely miss it.