Former Packet reporter Mike Truscott remembers the days of the Penryn firefighter's fan club.

I see there's a plan for North Yorkshire and Cornwall's fire services to share control rooms at busy times.

This bizarre move throws up intriguing possibilities. “Yer wot, luv? Yer 'ouse is burnin' down where - Perranar-wotyersay?”

But it also makes me recall a time when life was so much simpler - when local knowledge was just about everything, and when Penryn's firefighters had a little fan club.

I'm talking late 1950s, when this boy was already displaying promising news hound tendencies. He discovered the Penryn fire siren, wailing away as it used to do up by Penryn train station.

Yours Truly assembled a gang of fellow eight- and nine-year-olds who would swing into action whenever the town's retained firemen were summoned to duty.

The gang would hurtle down St Gluvias Street. The first to reach the fire station (sadly no more) on Commercial Road would climb onto the window ledge, peer inside and read the words being chalked onto the blackboard beside the permanent prefix “Fire at...”

I can still see Fireman Les Burge writing the location of the fire, as he took the details phoned through from Truro headquarters.

Les and most of his colleagues put up with us happily enough, but I can vividly recall a thunderous look of disapproval on the face of the local fire chief, the late Roy Curgenven, as he bemoaned our presence yet again.

Such dissuasion notwithstanding, there then followed another hectic sprint to the scene of the fire - with, just occasionally, the little blighters even arriving there first and waiting patiently for the fire engine to follow.

Ah well, at least we were getting exercise and witnessing drama for real. Computer games belonged to the future.

by Mike Truscott