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Landmark Asian firefighter retires after 27 years

Manjit Singh, one of the first Asian firefighters in the UK, is retiring after 27 years of service in the London Fire Brigade
Manjit Singh, one of the UK's first Asian firefighters, is retiring from the LFB

One of the first Asian firefighters in the country is hanging up his helmet after 27 years of service to Londoners.

Watch Manager Manjit Singh joined the London Fire Brigade in 1982 and has enjoyed every minute of it. He said: "I really have loved my job and when I joined it was seen as a landmark for an Asian to be a firefighter. I would like to see a lot more Asian firefighters coming through as it is an excellent career."

Manjit started on a very different career path: "I graduated as a chemical engineer but I wasn't enjoying it and I couldn't see myself working in an office. I had a very good friend who had joined West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service and I saw it as a great challenge and a good career change."

Starting at Shoreditch, Manjit moved to Clerkenwell where he served happily for over 20 years. He was also given the chief officers letter of commendation for his actions at the King's Cross fire in November 1987. Manjit continues: "I was one of the first breathing apparatus crews in the station when a huge flashover engulfed the station. I managed to rescued two women from the booking hall and get them out to safety."

But it isn't just the large incidents that are memorable. Manjit explains: "The smaller incidents are just as rewarding, for example rescuing an older person from a lift is still as rewarding as saving someone's life and they appreciate it all the same."

For the past six years Manjit has helped promote firefighter careers, including encouraging more women and BME people to consider the fire service. He continues: "I have visited temples and built up strong links with the local community. We're getting our message across that the fire service is a job for all, and by making links with London's diverse communities I'm sure we will see more representation in the Brigade."

Reflecting on his career Manjit has seen a lot of changes. He said: "The Brigade has taken huge steps forward in equalities and when new firefighters join they receive full support by their peers. There has also been a greater emphasis on fire safety and I think our messages are getting through to people. Prevention is definitely better than cure."

His family have always supported him being a firefighter and Manjit concluded: "The job offers up so many opportunities and I would absolutely recommend firefighting as a career for everyone."

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said "I would personally like to congratulate Manjit on an outstanding career and for all his hard work promoting firefighting to black minority ethnic individuals, women and especially the Asian community. He is a credit to the organisation and I wish him all the best for the future."

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