A fireman celebrating more than 40 years service is appealing for new recruits to help save lives.

Derek Whitbread, 59, officer in charge of Epping Fire Station, started firefighting in 1974 and should have retired from the service four years ago.

The father-of-three, who's first call at the age of 19 was a fatal plane crash, has attended over 15,000 calls during his time and is now seeking aspiring retained firefighters to start as soon as possible.

He said: "I haven't retired because I love my job, it's always different and you get a kick out of helping people.

"The new recruits just need to have a passion for helping others, you can apply if you're male, female, a mother or even a window cleaner, everyone will be trained the same.

"A retained firefighter doesn't need to be available all the time, you can be free during the day, evening or weekends, just a few days a week to be called out."

The new recruits must live or work between four to six minutes from the station in order to reach the job in a safe amount of time.

The current team of 13 continue to hold down normal jobs however remain on call around the clock.

Mr Whitbread's daughter, Hannah Kilden, 27, has been working as a retained firefighter at Epping station for eight years and is mother to Thomas, 20 months.

She said: "It is a massive commitment however it is a brilliant job and it is hugely rewarding.

"When you're on call, you're on call, once my alarm went off whilst I was in the shower and I had to turn up to the station with shampoo in my hair, but then you think, if I had taken the time to rinse it out, it could have cost someone their life."

You can apply to become a retained firefighter, here.