HE HAS put his life on the line to tackle blazes across the Arundel area for almost three decades.
But after more than 31 years helping to protect the community, retained firefighter Mark Dunham has decided to retire.
Mark, who was the watch commander at Arundel Fire Station, in Ford Road, said: “It’s been a real honour and privilege to be able to serve for the fire service for such a long time.
“I feel it’s been an honour to serve and help the community in being proactive and reactive in tackling fires.
“It’s been such a good job to do and it’s one that I will miss.”
Mark, 49, celebrated his retirement during a special presentation evening at Arundel Castle, last week.
Colleagues from Arundel provided a guard of honour and drove into the castle in a fire engine to mark the night.
He was presented with a long-service certificate for his years of dedication.
Mark added: “There are people who have served as a retained firefighter for a little longer than myself.
“But if I had stayed until the retirement age of 55 I would have been the longest-serving.
“But I just felt that now was the right time to leave.”
Mark joined the fire service as a retained firefighter in January, 1983, with Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Three years later, he moved and joined the retained crew at Arundel’s station, where he stayed for the next 28 years.
During this time he has battled many fires, from an enormous barn blaze in Bury, in which firefighters from across the county rushed to the scene to tackle, to a fire which ripped through three properties in the centre of Arundel.
He has even seen his own fire station burn down in 2006 after an electrical fault sparked a blaze which rapidly took hold of the station.
Mark is now looking forward to relaxing at home.
Mark Swanton, deputy district commander for the fire service, said he wished Mark all the best for the future.
He said: “It’s a really big commitment. He has been a retained firefighter, meaning that he was always on call.
“He has dedicated a vast amount of time to the service and we all wish him the very best for the next stage of his life.”