On Monday, 14 September 2020, Bruce Reid retired from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue after 36-years of service.
He had worked as both a retained and full-time firefighter, but it’s perhaps his charity and community work was what he became best known for, along with an ability to pull people together and just make things happen.
His interest in the fire service goes back to when he was 17.
I didn’t have a brilliant schooling, but did have respect for the Fire Service.
When I was 18 or 19 I used to go to Knaresborough Station, but at that time there wasn’t any vacancies. But on 17 December 1984, I managed to join as a retained firefighter in Knaresborough.
Retained firefighters live near a station and work on an on-call basis. By 2002, he wanted to move to a full-time role.
I wanted to move up to a full-time position, but in those days you had to apply and go through training again. There wasn’t a career progression from retained to full-time.
The trouble was I was in my mid-thirties and had a young family, and I wasn’t guaranteed a local position. Typically, you were given a post towards the end of the training, but I didn’t want to go through training and then not have a local role. So I spoke to the Chief Fire Officer and he guaranteed a position at one of the shift stations, there were 4 of them at the time.
When I completed my training I nearly fell off my chair when I was posted to Scarborough. I spent 2-years there, before getting back to Harrogate in 2004.
Since then, he has also worked in York and Acomb and worked up from Watch Manager to Crew Manager, with the last 3-years back in Harrogate.
Bruce is known and respected for his charity and community work.
In 2004 he resurrected the Christmas Concert at the Royal Hall. It was an event that hadn’t been run since the late 90’s and in 2004 he made it happen again and raised money for the firefighters Charity.
After seeing pictures of a stirrup pump Guinness record attempt at York Station, he bought the idea back to Knaresborough and raised money for crohn’s disease and the firefighters charity. Crohn’s disease was a chosen charity as he had friend whos wife died at only 32 with the condition.
Although Knaresborough station broke the record, they lost it shortly after to a station in Leicestershire.
Whilst working in York he worked to establish the York Bonfire, an event that would raise £14k a year.
Following 9-11 disaster in 2001, he made contact with a Brooklyn firefighter and, as soon as flights were available, went across with a small team to offer support. 343 New York firefighters had perished and in the weeks after there were often 6 or 7 funerals at the same time, Bruce and he colleagues attended as many of the funerals as they could.
In 2015 he was honoured with an MBE for his work.
More recently Bruce worked to provide Christmas dinners for 45 people and then 150 lunch deliveries during lockdown. Both events resulted in an avalanche of support.
Bruce also gave his thanks for the support he had been given this year by the Fire Service, following his son being diagnosed with a serious condition, something that he is now at home recuperating.
Ben Cairns, Harrogate District Station Manager, said:
Bruce has been a member of the service and NYFRS family for 36 years, starting his career as a retained firefighter. Bruce went on to work his way through the ranks in the On Call service finishing as the Watch Manager at Knaresborough as he transitioned into the wholetime service as a firefighter.
Bruce’s experience, tenacity and hard work saw him move again through the ranks of Crew Manager and ultimately Watch Manager at Harrogate. Aside from the dedication to both On Call and whole-time service, Bruce also used his many strengths and skills to work tirelessly for the Firefighters Charity which resulted in many years of fantastic events and annual fixtures including the amazing Carol Concert at the Royal Hall in Harrogate and the equally grand Bonfire and Fireworks event in York.
This hard work soon resulted in the Firefighters Charity noticing his skills and Bruce went on to work for the Firefighters Charity as a regional officer, where he supported many individuals across a wide scope of issues. It is this personal attribute and desire to help people on a human level that Bruce has in abundance and will be greatly missed by NYFRS. Bruce was recognised for his contribution to the charity sector with and MBE and I know Bruce is extremely proud of this honour, of which is he should be and thoroughly deserves for his hard work. I would to thank Bruce for his dedication and commitment to the communities of both North Yorkshire and York and his support to his colleagues in NYFRS.
I have worked alongside Bruce for many years and can class him not only as a trusted colleague but also as a good friend, whilst our friendship continues I will miss his leadership support and experience as a trusted and professional member of the team. I wish Bruce a long healthy and happy retirement and look forward to spending time with him in the future along the Northumbrian coastline.
Bruce is now looking to return to his career as a painter and decorator – we can only wish him well.