The watch commander at Burton Latimer fire station says being in the service is like having a second family after he celebrated 40 years in the job last week.
Les Allen signed up as a part-time fireman when he was 19.
An engineer at the time, he was told there were part-time posts going at the station so he applied.
"I went along to see what it was about," said Mr Allen.
"I just thought 'I'll see what's out there' - I've not regretted it."
Fast-forward 40 years to last Thursday (April 11) when Les was treated to a surprise gathering of colleagues, family members and the mayor.
Les, who turns 60 this year, said: "I don't know where the 40 years have gone, it doesn't seem like it's been that long; 40 years is a long time in the fire service.
"I enjoy the job so much, it's like being in a second family.
"You are part of a team, people come and go but you get the pleasure of seeing them come up through their training."
He added: "Helping people - that's the main part of the job, it's what we do it for."
Les' two daughters Rachel and Samantha know all about how life as a firefighter would unexpectedly whisk their dad away at any moment.
"He's missed birthdays, Christmas Days, New Year's Eves and New Year's Days," said Rachel.
She recalls one night when Les was called out to a road accident which, he found out at the scene, involved a close friend's son.
"You just don't know what's around the corner," said Rachel.
"As well as putting fires out it's the emotional part of the job that he has had to deal with.
"People don't usually think of that."
"He's worked so hard and his commitment and dedication to is all I have ever known since I was young," she added.
"We've seen him go from strength to strength."