Chris is a friendly face to many in his day job as a taxi proprietor, but for over 3 decades when he hasn’t been behind the wheel of his cab he has been donning breathing apparatus and rushing into burning buildings to save the lives of Islanders.
Joining the brigade in May 1985, Chris has been stationed at the heart of the Island for his entire career. But 35 years ago the service was a very different organisation to what it is today. Not only were the techniques different, but so were the appliances and equipment available, as well as the types of incidents crews were responding to.
It wasn’t unheard of for Newport’s retained firefighters to be responding to over 30 shouts a month, with Chris wearing breathing apparatus for over 20 of these – a stark contrast to the 17 turnouts the retained duty crew get on average nowadays.
The Crew Manager’s retirement comes during the middle of the coronavirus crisis, but it certainly isn’t the first challenge to face the well respected and experienced firefighter. Several incidents of note stick in Chris’ mind including the storm of 1987 when he spent 3 days on the pump, responding to over 300 call outs. The firebombing of Boots Newport in 1994 is also well remembered, as is the week-long fire at Headon Warren in Totland.
Chris says he has lost count of the number of people he has helped from burning buildings or cut from the wreckage of cars over the years, as well as the numerous cats, dogs, horses and other farm animals helped along the way. He is very proud to have attended every large and major incident on the Island during his service.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Hampshire & the Isle of Wight and long-term colleague, Steve Apter, presented Chris with a certificate of appreciation at Newport Fire Station last Friday. Mr Apter has himself celebrated 30 years in the service this week having started as a retained firefighter at Shanklin.
CM C Filipe retired on Friday 15th May 2020 – completing 35 years and 2 days of service.