City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services’ stalwart, Pat Muir, retires after 48 years’ service
Milnerton Fire Station’s station commander Patrick Muir has retired after 48 years of service. Muir, of Bothasig, spent his last day at the Milnerton Fire Station in Koeberg Road in Cape Town on Friday, 31 July 2020, a day before he celebrated his 65th birthday. Muir began his career as an apprentice repairing fire engines and qualified as a petrol diesel mechanic. Chief Fire Officer Ian Schnetler said, “Station commander Patrick Muir was born into the fire service and has been a stalwart ever since joining many years ago. He is, was and always will be a true officer and a gentleman of the service, never having let the service down in any manner or form. That which he was assigned to, was always undertaken with the best interest of the service at heart and never for his own personal gain. He is known and admired across the service for his true commitment as a fire fighter and officer of the service. We wish him well on his well-deserved retirement and will be eternally grateful for the contributions he made to the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service. I believe the legacy and benefits he created for our service will be with us for a long time to come and his successor will have big boots to fill. Thank you, Station commander Patrick Muir, it has been an honour and a pleasure having you in our service.”
Pat started his career in the fire service in 1972 and was transferred to the then Milnerton Fire Department on 1 August 1975, a day after his 21st birthday.
Last Friday he received a fire alarm bell mounted on a plaque as a parting gift for his decades of service. The engraving on the gold plate reads, “To an outstanding officer and true gentleman”. Asked how many awards he’d accumulated over the years, he said, “There’s been a few.” One of them was a long service award from the City of Cape Town in 2018 for 46 years of service. “The last 15 years have flown by,” said Muir, standing outside the fire station, behind him an open field with several rows of neatly parked fire rescue vehicles and fire engines gleaming in the sunlight.
Muir’s father, Robert Bernard Muir, was also a fire fighter and retired after 35 years of service as chief fire officer of the then Milnerton Fire Department in 1988. His father joined the Cape Town Fire Department in 1953 and was stationed in Wynberg. In the early 1970s, he was given the task of starting the Milnerton Fire Department and the Muir family moved from Wetton to Milnerton. “I learnt everything from my father. It was an ongoing mentorship. You can’t teach anyone experience. You pick it up from older hands,” he stated.
Pat points to the old family home across the road from the fire station. Milnerton Fire Department opened on 30 August 1973. Muir was a national serviceman in Pretoria at the time and was flown down especially for the occasion. He says the building itself hasn’t changed much but there have been add-ons like workshop rooms and a museum, which displays, among other things, a 1934 fire engine, the first engine used at the Milnerton Fire Department.
The Muir family boasts three generations of fire fighters. Pat’s brother, Rodney, also followed in their father’s footsteps and was a senior fireman who specialised in fire safety. He died of cancer in 2000. Pat Muir’s son, Rodrick, is a hazmat technician at Bellville Fire Station.
Asked about special memories throughout the years, Pat said, “What’s a good memory to us is tragic incidents managed well. No one wants our service but they are happy to receive it.” He recalls a few fires in the area over the years that have stood out for him such as a portion of the old Milnerton Race Course burning down in the late 70s and an explosion at Fedmis Plant where Makro is now situated.
Pat has been instrumental in creating the specifications for fire engines and fire rescue vehicles and says he will continue lending his expertise to the fire department after his retirement. “You don’t just get up and walk away from it,” he says but added that his wife Karen’s support over the years has earned her some travelling once COVID-19 allows it.
Fire and Rescue International wishes Pat all the best with his future ventures and travelling escapades! We are very honoured to have dealt with you during your time at City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue. A true officer and a gentleman!
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