A FIREFIGHTER who began his career in South Elmsall only to return more than two decades later to run the station has left for a new job.
Stephen Fealy returned to South Elmsall as fire station commander for both South Elmsall and Hemsworth in May 2011 - after first beginning his career as a firefighter at the station in 1988.
But Friday was his last day on the watch, and he said will be sad to say goodbye to the area.
He said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of being the commander at South Elmsall and Hemsworth, as I work with a great bunch of dedicated professionals, for a very proud community.”
Mr Fealy, who has worked across the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority division throughout his career, said he would always have an affinity for the area, and that he had been overwhelmed with the generosity of the community at charity events held at the station over the past year.
During his time in the role, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority decided to close down the two stations and replace them with a single base in South Kirkby, as part of cost cutting measures.
Mr Fealy, who lives in Ossett, said the merger was being discussed when he started in the area last year.
He said: “The future for the provision of fire cover in the area is very disappointing and nothing to celebrate, but the brigade has had to cut its cloth according to the reduction in the funding it receives whilst still providing a professional service.
“It is sad the decision had to be taken.”
Mr Fealy is leaving the station to join the operational risk management team based at the fire service’s headquarters at Birkenshaw, Bradford.
He said: “I am a little sad to be leaving as I was thoroughly enjoying my time, but at the same time, I welcome and look forward to a challenge and my new role will provide just that.”