Over 46,000 tonnes of crude oil catching fire in Milford Haven is just one of the memories from a three generations family of firefighters at Newcastle Emlyn Fire Station.
Gareth, Emyr and Cian have a combined total of over 73 years’ service and dedication – and counting.
Gareth Jones joined Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (known then as Dyfed Fire Brigade) in 1975, his son, Emyr Jones, then joined as an On-Call firefighter in 1996 and most recently, Emyr’s son and Gareth’s grandson, Cian Jones, joined as an On-Call firefighter in June 2023 – one week after his 18th birthday.
Not only has Cian followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, but he has also inherited his grandfather’s previous Service number.
Gareth is the eldest member of the family and spent 45 years working for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service through its different iterations.
Gareth was 25 years old when he joined the Service as On-Call firefighter in 1975, he had friends who were already working as firefighters and the fire station was recruiting for more, so he applied. During his career, Gareth spent 19 years as Newcastle Emlyn Fire Station’s Watch Manager, before moving on to work within the Service’s Community Safety Team. Gareth was responsible for initiating the Service’s school outreach programme and oversaw the introduction of the Service’s Fire Safety Education Programme, to deliver fire safety information and guidance to schools within the Service area.
One of the most notable incidents Gareth remembers attending is the Amoco Refinery fire in August 1983 in Milford Haven. This incident involved an oil storage tank containing over 46,000 tonnes of crude oil catching fire and eventually becoming fully alight. Gareth can remember having to enter underground chambers underneath the tanker that was on fire to set ground monitors.
Remembering the Amoco Refinery fire, Gareth said:
“I can remember us all entering this confined underground chamber and being very aware of how dangerous it was. Most of us on duty that day had young families at home and, as the Watch Manager, I told my fellow crew members that if they wanted to turn back to do so. Nobody did and it was this camaraderie and supporting one another that I enjoyed most while working as a firefighter.
While dealing with challenging incidents, everyone is treated and supported equally, regardless of rank, and everyone is seen as an individual.”
When asked about the changes he’d experienced throughout his career, Gareth said:
“The biggest changes I witnessed were the advancements in technology, from the appliances to the firefighting kit, it’s incredible to think today that when I first started as a firefighter, we didn’t have breathing apparatus sets.
“There were no alerters either, a large siren at the top of the station’s tower would sound to notify all On-Call firefighters of an incident. When you’d get to the station, you would answer the phone and frantically write the incident’s details while trying to catch your breath. When alerters were first introduced, they were large, heavy, brick-like devices!”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Emyr joined as an On-Call firefighter at Newcastle Emlyn Fire Station in 1996, before becoming a wholetime firefighter in 1999. Emyr went on to spend over 10 years as Watch Manager at Newcastle Emlyn Fire Station and is about to mark 28 years of service.
Emyr and Gareth spent a total of six years working together in various capacities at Newcastle Emlyn Fire Station, along with Emyr’s brother, Hefin Jones. After spending over 24 years as a wholetime firefighter, Emyr is currently on secondment at Service Headquarters, where he is developing and delivering marauding terrorist attack awareness training to all operational crews, as well as providing operational cover in the Ceredigion area.
Emyr says that supporting and protecting the local community and teamwork are the best things about being a firefighter:
“There’s a real feeling of being part of a family, not only within your own crew but with other stations too, whether it’s while we’re responding to incidents, undertaking training or attending community safety events.
This isn’t limited to being on-duty either, many of us will socialise outside of work and I’ve made some lifelong friends during my career.”
During Gareth’s and Emyr’s careers, they saw the formation of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service in 1996, following a merger of Dyfed, Powys and West Glamorgan Fire Brigades as part of Welsh Government reforms.
Cian began his training to become an On-Call firefighter in mid-June 2023 - one week after his 18th birthday.
Having grown up with his grandfather and father working as firefighters, Cian had an early interest in becoming a firefighter himself. Outside of his role with the Service, Cian works as a plasterer and while he is in the early stages of his career, he aspires to eventually become a wholetime firefighter. 3408 is an important number for Cian, as not only is it his Service number, but it was also his grandfather’s before his retirement from the Service.
Recent incidents that Cian has attended includes a road traffic collision, which gave him his first hands-on involvement at a real-life emergency and has made him eager to gain more experience.
When asked about his new role as an On-Call firefighter, Cian said:
“I’m proud to be following in my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and serving the community of Newcastle Emlyn. I enjoy the buzz of being On-Call and responding to incidents, as well as working as a team with the other crew members, as an avid rugby and football player, I already have a strong teamwork mentality. I’m really enjoying the experience and I’m looking forward to developing my career in the Fire and Rescue Service.”
Gareth, Emyr and Cian aren’t the only members of the family who work at the Service, Gareth’s other son and Emyr’s brother, Hefin Jones, is also a member of staff. Along with Emyr, Hefin followed his father and spent over 10 years as an On-Call firefighter and currently works as a member of the Service’s People and Organisational Development Department. Combined, all four family members have almost 90 years of service and dedication to Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and the communities it protects.
Becoming an On-Call Firefighter
Gareth, Emyr and Cian all agreed that working as firefighters provide great job satisfaction and is a highly rewarding career. Teamwork is at the heart of everything that firefighters do and their roles provide the opportunity to protect and engage with their local community.
There are also many opportunities and incentives to develop your career within the Service through a variety of continuing professional development courses and training. More information on On-Call Firefighter recruitment can be found on Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s website.