Halifax hero calls time on extraordinary career

Popular firefighter and philanthropist Dom Furby will retire from the fire service this month.

A firefighter who has given nearly 25 years of service to West Yorkshire is calling time on an extraordinary career.

Outgoing station commander Dom Furby

Outgoing station commander Dom Furby

50-year-old Dom Furby, station commander at Halifax and Illingworth Fire and Rescue Service, joined the team 24 years ago after nine years in the RAF where he served in the Gulf War.

The married father of four has worked in four of the five West Yorkshire districts and has been based in Calderdale since 2009.

A keen philanthropist, he has raised in the region of a million pounds for charity and has spoken of his pride in going above and beyond for the region.

“Some people look at the fire and rescue service and they think ‘well, they just fight fires’, but the truth is that it’s so much more than that.

Dom Furby's recruit photograph

Dom Furby's recruit photograph

“We’ve got some fantastic partnerships with a lot of the local authorities in the area and I’m really very proud of some of the things we do. We do occasionally run into burning buildings, but we teach 2,000 children a year to ride bikes and we do a lot of work on prevention, the list is endless. We do some really great stuff in a fantastic community.”

On his charity work, for which he has won a number of awards including a coveted Spirit of Fire Award in 2014, he said:

“I’ve raised a really good amount over the years with the charities I’ve worked with. I’m especially passionate about the Firefighters charity and I’ve done about ten calendars. They sell all over the world now.”

Dom says he will continue his work with a number of charities long into his retirement.

“Charities can’t function without the support of a community and if you know you have helped someone in need, it puts a smile on your face.”

His awards don’t stop at his charity efforts. He is also the proud recipient of a Bravery Award for pulling a man from a burning car while off duty with his family.

It has been a career of lows as well as highs, Dom admitted while recalling his first fatality, the death of a young mother in a house fire:

“I very clearly remember turning up her children were outside. You try your best but you can’t help but wonder whether you did absolutely everything you could to save that life. You soon realise in your career that you’re going to see a bit of that.”

News of Dom's retirement has drawn tributes from around the Calderdale region.

Chief Fire Officer John Roberts said: “Station Commander Furby’s contribution to the Fire Service, and indeed to the communities he has served, has been exemplary. He has gone above and beyond not just to protect people and keep them safe but to create opportunities for young people to succeed, to bring people together in social cohesion and to help people stay fit and healthy.

“Furthermore Mr Furby’s commitment to raising funds for The Fire Fighters Charity, which supports injured firefighters and their families, along with his support of other local and national charities, has been carried out with great tenacity and enthusiasm."

Dr Andrew Lockey, Consultant in Emergency Medicine for Calderdale & Huddersfield Foundation Trust, and founding member of the Calderdale Safer Roads Partnership said:

“In all the years that I have known Dom, he has been passionate about road safety. His inspirational and affable leadership style has helped to re-boot an award winning partnership in the Calderdale area. Through his ongoing work, partnership activity between Fire and Rescue, NHS, Police, Ambulance and the local council continues to thrive. As a result of his persistence whilst leading this group, the road safety agenda now has a formal footing at local council level.”

Coun Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said:

“On behalf of Calderdale Council, I would like to thank Dom for his hard work, energy and enthusiasm for Calderdale during his 30 years in the fire service. Dom represents everything great about Calderdale, has been a joy to work with and has undertaken the ever-widening role of the fire service to keep our communities safe with care and diligence. What we will miss the most when Dom retires though is his tireless efforts, often in his own time, supporting community activity, raising thousands for charities and increasing young people’s involvement in sport through schemes like the Bike Library and team sport. His humour and warmth will be sorely missed. We all wish him the best for his retirement.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue have taken on a raft of new recruits in the new year and Dom’s advice to them is simple:

“Enjoy every minute. Don’t look back at your career at the end of it and think what you could have done differently, make a difference and change somebody’s life for the better.”