11 May 2015 by Graham Ellicott,

You have to be a certain age to remember Sandy Denny and her iconic song ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes?’ For those under 60 the song comes from the Fairport Convention album Unhalfbricking with Sandy on vocals and the greatest ever guitarist, Richard Thompson, playing blistering lead!  I too have wondered where all the time has gone since I entered the hallowed fire sector in 1981 and it’s mostly  the people that fuel the memories and these rise to the top like froth on a good beer now that I’m leaving the FIA and the fire sector in general.

My first ever job was running a small fire protection company in the USA which sold predominantly hydrocarbon fire protection systems to the petrochemical industry. Based in Houston that was a great time and allowed me to visit most parts of the USA – God I still miss the optimism of North America where people tell you why things can be done rather than why they can’t – Government please take note!   I should at this time tell you that much of my training in the UK for that job was provided by a certain tap dancing champion who sold fire protection as a hobby – I still remain grateful to him and his team for their help, advice and encouragement – he’s still out there pushing the passive fire protection message!

Returning to the UK was a strain especially dealing with the less optimistic attitude but again people helped tremendously with one regal Scots guy being a standout person – coatings for timber have benefitted immensely because of his knowledge and enthusiasm!

For the last thirteen years or so I’ve earnt my corn working for fire trade associations and again it’s the people that are memorable including the guy that first coached Johnny Wilkinson – this is especially ironic as he’s a Welsh Rugby supporter. Earlier on I had a go at Government but there are some great people there as well as the ones that tell you endlessly why things can’t be done- of especial note are the Stockport County supporting (well somebody has to…) fan and the judo practising guy who brings a certain panache to the term regulation! Looking outside of the FIA and Government there are some other great people as well including the guy that refers to the opposing team as ‘the vermin’ , the person that trained as a vet and who now reads all of my blogs to see if his mother gets a mention, and the Scots fire guy who has demolition in his family – I could go on but the list would be too long and I’m conscious that people may be trying to read this on their ‘phones – well I hope people will read it…

I don’t intend to say too much about the FIA in this blog as the emotion will cut in and I’d rather say my thanks individually to the team that has helped me since its formation – they are great people!

I hope the above hasn‘t been too gushing and you’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned people who I don’t get on with in the fire world, not that there are many of them, plus I know that FIA personnel have been told to watch Ellicott during his wind down period as he might go off on one! All I would say is that the Unhalfbricking contains a Bob Dylan song translated into French namely ‘Si tu dois partir va t’en’ and perhaps they should take heed of the title! Or at least listen to the joyous nature of the song rather than their own...

And now on to the competition anybody that can name six or more of the people referred to above gets a free ‘Noise at Survey’ from me via Dakat as that’s my new venture which will make sure that Ellicott Towers is properly maintained and which  will sustain the Next and Asos habits of other household members!

So fire sector thanks for the mostly good memories and now onto the next phase of the Ellicott life – it’s a shame Sandy Denny is no longer with us as I’d dearly like to ask her Who Knows Where the Time Goes...