‘A true gem’ - tributes to Calderdale fireman

Fire service giving a talk about bonfire night to children at St Andrew's Junior School, Brighouse.
Watch commander Gio Richetta and firefighter Danny Pepper with Samuel Brearley, nine, and Rachel Duthoit, nine.
Fire service giving a talk about bonfire night to children at St Andrew's Junior School, Brighouse. Watch commander Gio Richetta and firefighter Danny Pepper with Samuel Brearley, nine, and Rachel Duthoit, nine.

Tributes have been paid to a former Calderdale firefighter who was killed in a crash just months after retiring from the service

Ex-watch commander Giovanni Richetta served across stations including Brighouse, Halifax and Illingworth and in Bradford during 30 years with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service before his departure last September.

The 52-year-old, died in a motorbike collision in Clapham, North Yorkshire, on Sunday.

Chief fire officer Simon Pilling said: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has a very heavy heart, upon hearing news of the tragic death of retired Watch Commander Giovanni Richetta.

“Gio, as he was known to his Fire Service friends, had retired after 30 years’ service at the end of September 2015, having joined West Yorkshire on the same recruits course as myself in 1985.

“Gio served at various stations across Leeds and Bradford district, before ending his career in the Operational Resource Pool, performing his duties wherever required.

“He was an incredibly popular, well respected and fun-loving character who appeared to be always smiling and making friends wherever he went. He was larger than life and never failed to see the funny side of things, but there was also a serious side to him.

“Professionally, he was a first class firefighter who gave 30 years dedicated service to West Yorkshire.

“He was hugely proud of being a firefighter, it was everything to him.

“Gio was skilled in building construction and was very practical minded, helping others wherever and whenever he could, without seeking reward.

“We were sorry to see him retire last September and it is devastating that he will now not have the opportunity to enjoy the retirement he so deserved.

“For him to have left us on Valentine’s Day is a bittersweet reminder of the love he shared with us all.

“He was a true gem.”

Mr Richetta was involved in a head-on crash with a car on the notorious Austwick bends on the A65 near Clapham.

Mr Richetta, a father and grandfather, lived in Wrose, Shipley.

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for witnesses to the fatal crash. A Force spokesman said the accident involved a red, old-style Moto Guzzi motorcycle that was being ridden into the Craven district and a blue Peugeot 206 travelling towards Lancashire.