22 June 2006 | Paul Snell
Keith Blake has retired from his role as head of procurement strategy after more than 40 years at the London Fire Brigade.
He joined in 1965 as an administrative trainee and continued to work in a variety of posts until the creation of a dedicated procurement department in 2001.
Blake, who described himself as the "last of the generalists", has seen many changes in the profession.
"Procurement has moved from what many considered to be a routine, back-room activity, focused on buying small value items, to the industry of today.
"The state of the industry is far better now because it is increasingly professional," he said.
His achievements include the body's first two procurement strategies. But he was keen to stress that he had help along the way. "I've had plenty of guidance from marvellous colleagues who have shared their experience with me," he said.
"When it first began to sink in that he actually did intend to retire, I rather hoped it was all a bad dream," said Terry Brewer, head of procurement and Blake's boss.
The post will be filled on a temporary basis until the end of the year, after which the department will be re-organised.