Daventry 'hero' Norman goes out in blaze of glory after 38 years of saving people's lives

Daventry firefighter Norm James is going out in a blaze of glory after nearly 40 years of saving lives.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 5:08 pm
Norm (centre in the woolly hat) at a recent Op Unite event on Daventry High Street. Picture: Northants Fire

When it comes to battling fires in Daventry, Norm has seen it all.

Over those 82,000 scheduled hours he’s become a key pillar of the local community, not just for dousing flames but for the work that he’s done in the community.

And it is his fondness for that community side of his work that has led Norm to seek pastures new for 2022.

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The Drayton Fields industrial fire in 2018, one of many blazes Norm James helped put out

Norm will be hanging up his full-time fire tunic as a Watch Commander at Daventry Fire Station, although he will remain operational as an on-call firefighter responding to incidents outside daytime hours.

But it’s not farewell to Daventry altogether in his new role as a community safety officer in the fire service’s prevention team – as he will still be out and about offering education and vital tips to stay safe, but his area has now widened to cover the whole of West Northamptonshire.

“I’ve absolutely loved being a firefighter in Daventry and I wouldn’t change a thing about the last 38 years,” said Norm.

“The role has evolved more into becoming community focused and there are less fires and incidents now because we are actively promoting things like fire and water safety.”

Norm at work. Picture: Northants Fire

Some of the big jobs Norm attended included a warehouse fire at Watford Gap in the late 1980s, and the Drayton Fields industrial fire in 2018. And he’s attended incidents not just across the county, using the specialised fire vehicles at Daventry, but as far away as Swansea and Kings Lynn.

He added: “It’s not just been Daventry, I’ve been fortunate to go up and down the whole country in the role. Obviously you remember those big fires and there’s been so many of them, but sometimes it’s the smaller ones you remember. Really I consider my whole career so far as the highlight.”

Norm’s new role will see him continue much of the community work he’s already done in Daventry, such as visiting schools and community events to promote safety. He will also continue as the fire service lead for Op Unite, a multi-agency scheme that has helped reduce arson and anti-social behaviour on many of the estates in Daventry since it was launched in 2017.

Speaking about his new role as a community safety officer, Norm added: “I’ve always had a passion for engaging with people and I’ve always been happy to talk to anyone. I will still be thoroughly embedded with Op Unite in Daventry and with the success of it through key partnership working with other agencies, including our locals PCSOs, we’ll be looking at bringing that kind of approach into other areas of West Northamptonshire.”

Norm hard at work. Picture: Northants Fire
Looking smart early in his career.