The most long-serving operational firefighter in the country has been given a prestigious accolade and a standing ovation by his peers.
Watch Manager Chas McGill took to the stage at the national Excellence in Fire and Emergency Awards on Friday (December 2) to rapturous applause.
He was awarded the gong for Outstanding Contribution to the Fire and Rescue Service over the past five decades.
Earlier this year he received a special award from Chief Officer Dave Curry, was recognised at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Celebrating Success event and was made an MBE by the Queen.
The 67-year-old said: “I was completely overwhelmed and couldn’t believe that everyone had managed to keep it a secret.
“There was something that made this honour particularly special as it came from other people in the service, it made me feel very proud.
“I feel very passionate about my job and lucky to work for, what I consider to be, the best and most forward looking fire service in the country.”
During his 50 years of dedicated service he has dealt with more incidents than most, driving to many in a Green Goddess, the iconic fire engine produced in the 1950s.
One of the biggest incidents Chas attended was the 1970 explosion and fire aboard the Pacific Glory, which was carrying 70,000 tonnes of crude oil when the Allegro, carrying 100,000 tonnes of crude oil, collided with it.
It took 40 hours to battle the flames during the incident, off the coast of the Isle of Wight, in which 13 members of the Pacific Glory crew were killed.
More recently he was a tactical advisor at the Swinley Forest fire in Berkshire in 2011 at which 50 engines from seven counties were deployed along with more than 200 firefighters.
Since lifting up his first hose in 1966, the fire service has been where Chas feels most at home.
Chief Officer Curry said: “Chas is hugely respected for his experience and knowledge as well as his commitment to keeping the communities of Hampshire safe.
“It is fantastic to see him recognised on a national level, and by fire and rescue professionals, as he marks this incredible milestone.
“I was honoured that he asked me to join him on stage as he received this award.”
At the ceremony the service was also shortlisted for Most Influential Woman in Fire, Project of the Year, Innovation of the Year and Emergency Services Partnership of the Year.
It came days after transgender firefighter Katie Cornhill received the accolades of Woman of Courage at the annual BWEA Sussex ceremony and Champion of Equality and Diversity at the Asian FSA event.
The Media and Communications team have also picked up their second industry gong this year, at the Pride Awards, for being the best in the public sector.
They were also shortlisted for a clutch of other awards.
For more information, go to www.hantsfire.gov.uk