FIRE officer Julian Fountaine is to retire after a distinguished 32 year career.

He has held a number of positions including fleet manager, community safety manager, training centre manager, community resilience manager and station officer during his time with the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service.

He has also been an avid fundraiser, met royalty, and enjoyed his job over the three decades — although he admits there are some things he has seen that he would like to forget.

Isle of Wight County Press: Julian Fountaine and Steve Apter running a recruits course at Ryde Training CentreJulian Fountaine and Steve Apter running a recruits course at Ryde Training Centre

Julian, 58, said: "I joined Sandown Retained in 1989. Jim Ballard was the station officer and the late Steve Cox was the sub officer.

"I attended the Fowlers fire and it was so cold my breathing apparatus set intake froze while working on the roof.

"I was involved in various charity events with Sandown Retained Station, and waded in Ryde Canoe Lake in fire kit and so many more events, that gave me a great interest to apply for whole time."

He trained in 1991 and his time on White Watch at Newport Fire Station was a great start to serving 30 years full-time.

He spent ten years of his career at Ryde and has great memories of the drill yard, recruit courses, fire house and with a great team, from 1996 to 2006.

Isle of Wight County Press: Julian Fountaine meeting Prince Charles at Ryde Fire Station.Julian Fountaine meeting Prince Charles at Ryde Fire Station.

He said: "I set up a parade for Prince Charles when he came over to see Ryde Station. We had a mad dash to get a banner from the mainland to the hovercraft and tied up in place less than one minute before the cavalcade arrived.

"The planning and preparation was another testament to our organisational skills that we must have as a small team.

"I also spent over three years at Moreton-in-Marsh at the Incident Command School as a seconded group manager officer, moving with my family to Gloucestershire.

"It was a great time that saw me work with not only the UK Fire and Rescue Service but international students, presenting to and in foreign countries, CAT 2 responders, military, special forces and more.

"It's been great to be an incident commander, working with so many firefighters, police, ambulance, and others, in some very inhospitable and challenging arenas."

Experiences include emergency management, driving through floods, working with the military in covert surveillances, VIP dinners, and a gun salute at the Tower of London.

He said: "The IW Fire and Rescue Service has allowed me to undertake and experience so many things that members of the public can't dream of or buy a ticket for."

Among his experiences he has shaken hands with royalty, stood on the steps of No 10 Downing Street, and represented the fire service twice at the Cenotaph in London.

Other memorable moments included being part of specialist teams such as offshore firefighting with sea survival, and Navy training on how to stop a battleship sinking.

An avid fundraiser, Julian has undertaken many challenges including mountain summits, marathons, an ultra-marathon, cycling around the IW without a saddle, cycling to Prague and Rome, and Walking the Wight in breathing apparatus while wearing the Fireman Sam suit.

Among his achievements was raising more than £11,000 for the Anthony Nolan Foundation.

He said: "When I look back on my career, not job, I realise just how much I have done and achieved with some truly fantastic people that have made my time so enjoyable."

He is now looking forward to spending more time with wife Angela, children Kimberley, Oliver and Cameron, and his four grandchildren.

He would also like to travel more, when Covid permissions allow.