‘Elvis’ has left the building after 30 years’ service to fire fighting

Tributes have been paid to Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Watch Commander John Jennings who has retired after dedicating three decades of his life to keeping the people of Derry and district safe.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 10:59 am

The 59-year-old, started his service with the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade in November, 1991 with White Watch at Northland Road Fire Station working under sub-officer Phil Devine and station officer John Gurney.

Married to Annette, the dad of four and grandfather of eleven, hopes to enjoy retirement by gardening and playing golf as well as dedicating some more of his evenings to his music.

During his time with the fire service John served 15 years with the Watch, earning himself the nickname ‘Elvis’ due to his sideline as a rock star playing around the many pubs and clubs of Derry and Donegal.

John Jennings pictured on the morning of his retirement cooking breakfast for others in the office at Crescent Link Fire Station. On left is his son Noel. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

In 2006, he then moved to the Community Development Department in Western Area Headquarters at Crescent Link, as the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade became the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service. Serving in this role, he worked closely with many groups across the community enhancing fire safety awareness and education.

Indeed, as a specialist Fire Setter Intervention Officer, John played a key role in working to protect and advocate for young and vulnerable people in the community while working closely with colleagues in the Youth Justice Agency, Western Education and Library Board and PSNI among others.

A few years back, the affable firefighter was also nominated for a ‘Person of the Year’ award for his service to the community.

The Coshquin-native leaves the Service in good hands, as his son Noel followed in his footsteps, now also stationed at Crescent Link Fire Station in the Waterside.

John and son Noel pictured outside Crescent Link Fire Station on his last day of service.

John dealt with many dangerous, difficult and harrowing situations over his 30 years in the Fire Service and attended many difficult calls.

‘I have a lot of stories, some good and some not so good but I come away with a lot of positive experiences through the years. It is tough leaving but retirement comes to us all.”

Reflecting on his service, he added: “I have had time to reflect on what I am most proud of from my time here – and I would say I’m proud to have made a difference within our communities and our service.

“I have worked with some brilliant people.

Group Commander Patsy Begley wishes retiring Watch Commander John Jennings good luck on his last day at Crescent Link Fire Station. On right are Watch Commander Noel Jennings, and Assistant Group Commander Kevin McLaughlin. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

“There are many reasons I have stayed in the service for so long – but one of the main reasons is because of who we are as a service and the culture that is here.

During his time as a firefighter John responded to a number of incidents he admits he will never forget including a number of serious road traffic collisions and rescues.

Assistant Group Commander Kevin McLaughlin, Western Area Command praised John’s contribution to the service.

He said: “John has been a dedicated member of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service for 30 years and I have had the pleasure of working with him in a number of roles.

John Jennings, pictured on the occasion of his retirement with wife Annette and grandchildren - Sean Jennings, Annette Jennings, Lily-May McLoone, Baby Cillian McLoone, Conor McLoone, Georgia McLoone, Ruaidhrí Jennings, Anna Jennings, John Jennings, Fiadh Jennings and Fionn Jennings.

“His high work ethic and commitment to whatever role he has been performing has been inspiring and I know that he has been a very credible, well-liked officer that has delivered some significant outcomes for the communities of Derry and district.

“We all wish him well in his retirement.”

John pictured on the occasion of his retirement with wife Annette, and at back, children - Cathal, Aoife, Una and Noel.
Retiring firefighter John Jennings pictured on the occasion of his retirement with some of the staff from Crescent Link Fire Station. Back from left, Noel Jennings, Gillian McClelland, Claire Mooney, Rosemary Doherty; and front from left, Brian Birney, Kevin McLaughlin, Simon Green and Peter Melarkey.
CUTTING THE CAKE!. . . Cutting the cake to mark Johnâ€TMs official retirement from the NIFRS are Annette, Johnâ€TMs wife, and children, Aoife, Una, Cathal and Noel.