FROM rescuing a baby hippo to tackling a blazing building - it has all been in more than a day's work over more than 30 years for Kidderminster retained firefighter, Graham Moran.

The 57-year-old is about to retire after 31 years on standby to back up the fire service as well as holding a full-time job as an engineer at Cheshire's.

"There have been days when I've got in to work and had to turn round and go straight out again," said Mr Moran.

"In the hot, dry summer of 1976 I spent almost all the time fighting grass fires. I was only at work a couple of hours for weeks. A lot of firms these days are not so understanding but Cheshire's have been very good about it."

As sub-officer in charge of the team of 10, he has already had two extensions past the official retirement age of 55. Now he has decided to start a vegetable patch at home in Crestwood Avenue and spend more time with wife, Caroline, his three children and four grandchildren.

"There have been times when we've been to the pictures and I've had to leave before the start or I've left her to pick up the bill in a restaurant," he said.

After leaving Harry Cheshire High School, Mr Moran considered the full-time brigade but the pay was not as good in those days.

Instead, he went on the 13-week training course for the retained service, which is called out when more than two pumps are needed.

He has been called out to major blazes as well as saving a dog in the Marshes and being called on to pull a baby hippo from the water in West Midland Safari Park.

"It's really been the best of both worlds," he said. "I've had a job I enjoy and the excitement of being a firefighter."