Paul Geary pictured by Chris Porsz in 1981.
Paul Geary pictured by Chris Porsz in 1981.

Looking back reunion: Training to fight fires at Peterborough’s Town Hall

This week’s pictures, which feature in Chris Porsz’s Reunions II book continues the firefighter theme.

By Nigel Thornton
Sunday, 30th January 2022, 3:45 pm

Chris said: “I hope readers will enjoy this one.

“Paul Geary is enjoying his 15 minutes and recently did a zoom call for a German news channel.”

Chris said of the pictures: “Fireman Paul Geary was pictured on top of Peterborough Town Hall in 1981. Firefighter Paul Fredericks was operating the turntable.”

Paul Geary, who was a fireman for 30 years and is now retired, said: “We had gone into the city to do some training with the turntable ladder and I was the one at the top when Chris took the photo.

“We were learning how to get onto the building. Unknown to us there was a council meeting at the time and we were told

to leave!”

Chris captured Paul clambering up a ladder again 41 years later at the same location, with his original helmet, but fortunately not at such dizzy height.

Reflecting on his long career, Paul, who now lives in Werrington and has two sons, said: “I loved the job as it was so varied. One job which stands out was a distressed parrot owner,whose bird had escaped to a tree but kept flying off to the next tree every time we put our ladder up.

“On another occasion we had to rescue a man stuck on a roof after he had climbed onto his kitchen table, which was balanced on several bricks, with his ladder on top!

“Another time we were called to a person trapped in a burning house and on approaching we saw billowing black smoke coming out of every window with one very distressed ladyscreaming that her husband and baby were inside.

“After searching the house twice we concluded there was nobody in there and were greeted by the husband and baby who had been for a walk. The TV had caught fire while they were out.

“The lady had been rescued by neighbours from the bedroom window where she had been on the phone fearing her husband and baby were still inside.”

Paul said his worst job was the Fengate explosion in 1989, which killed his friend and colleague John Humphries.

He added: “I was on the Dogsthorpe pump and we were on our way to a playgroup at Westwood when we got the call.

“On arrival two of us took protection behind a 20 ton roller in the yard and got a jet of water on to the burning van which then blew uptaking the roller and everything else in its path.”

During his career, Paul also took part in a couple of episodes of the ITV series London’s Burning.

He later worked at the Posh football ground, firstly as a fire safety steward and later as a general steward, after his retirement from the Fire Service.

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