Chas McGill only ever wanted to be a fireman. As a 10-year-old boy he would give the Hythe firemen responding to the siren alerting them to an incident a good run for their money in getting to the fire station first. Chas loved to watch the big red machines race from the station.
At the age of 17 he joined the ranks at Hythe and began a service career that has lasted almost 56 years. In 1977 he was transferred to the new fire station at Hardley, having been heavily involved with its design and subsequent construction.
A new book, Chas – A Lifetime Fighting Fire, was published at the end of April telling of the remarkable career of a quite remarkable man. During his career Charles ‘Chas’ McGill has attended numerous major incidents along the Waterside, including fires aboard oil tankers at the Fawley oil jetty and incidents within the Fawley Refinery. At the age of just 21, he was one of the first firefighters aboard the oil tanker Pacific Glory, ablaze after having been rocked by an explosion following a collision with another vessel off the Isle of Wight.
Chas has changed tack many times, involving himself in all aspects of the fire service. Scaling down his front-line duties, he moved into communications, graduating to being a National Advisor with all things related. His role in the development of High-Volume Pumping also saw him become a National Advisor in this field too and see him at the forefront of flooding incidents across the country.
In more recent years he has worked on interoperability between the blue-light services, arrange multi-agency exercises and among many other facets promote the standing of female firefighters.
He was already a much-decorated firefighter when in 2016 he was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen at a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
The book, an authorised biography, tells of Chas’s life and career from his schooldays to the present day, and includes a host of photographs. It concludes with testimonials from members of the emergency services both past and present who have served alongside Chas during his stellar career.
The book has been written by Alan Titheridge, known for his books about the Hythe Ferry, Hythe Pier and the Hythe Pier Railway. It is published by Ceratopia Books and is available on its website.
For more information, go to www.ceratopiabooks.co.uk