The dedication of three Dumfries and Galloway firefighters from has been recognised with the award of the Queen’s Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Firefighters Alec Currie, Billy Lyons and Isobel Torbet received the award after reaching the milestone of 20 years protecting communities as officers on the Retained Duty System at Whithorn Fire Station.
The trio were presented with their medals by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) senior officer for Dumfries and Galloway, Area Manager Neville Wright, at an evening ceremony held in the station on Monday 10 February.
Area Manager Wright said: “The award of the Long Service Good Conduct Medal is always an incredible achievement but it is perhaps even more so for firefighters who serve on the retained duty system.
“For more than two decades Alec, Billy and Isobel have provided their community with vital, professional fire and rescue cover while meeting the demands of their other careers.
“They have given up huge amounts of their free time in committing not only to respond to all sorts of emergencies, but also to undertake the training needed to gain and constantly develop the specialist skills required of modern firefighters.
“It’s unquestionably a deep commitment and clearly the support of their family members has been crucial to them meeting the demands of their role.
“This was rightly a very proud moment for the families as well as the firefighters and I’m delighted they were there to see the medals presented to their loved ones.
“I know I speak for the whole of Dumfries and Galloway when I say a very sincere thank you to Firefighter Currie, Firefighter Lyons and Firefighter Torbet for their dedication and professionalism over the past 20 years.”
The Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal honours firefighters ‘who have rendered long and meritorious service as members of the Fire Brigades of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Mann and the Channel Islands’.
Created by Royal Warrant of HM the Queen in 1954, the award is bestowed only on firefighters who have given 20 years’ service with good conduct.
Station Manager James Manning, the officer commanding Whithorn and other fire stations in Wigtownshire, said: “It is a privilege to work alongside three individuals who are so dedicated to their communities.
“There can be no doubt that the skills and experience held by Isobel, Billy and Alec make them a tremendous asset to the public and they thoroughly deserve this award.
“Receiving the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal reflects their unwavering commitment to protecting the area – it is a great achievement and their colleagues are absolutely delighted to see these firefighters recognised for their efforts.”
The three firefighters awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal have notably different regular careers but, like retained duty system (RDS) officers throughout Scotland, are part of a close and tightly-knit crew.
Alec Currie is a church minister, Billy Lyons a joiner and carpenter, while Isobel Torbert’s primary employment is also with SFRS as a commercial training officer.
Firefighter Torbet said: “Being in the RDS has given me so many opportunities – I’d be lost without it.
“When you go to fires or road traffic collisions you know it can be harrowing and you do get very sad incidents, but it makes you such a strong person and it has improved my skills in lots of ways.
“We all loved having our families there when we got the medals as they’ve done so much for us. Whenever the pager goes at night my husband gets up and opens doors so I can get going faster.
“The ceremony was very intimate and that’s what it’s like in the RDS – you make really strong friendships.”
Many communities are protected by firefighters on the retained duty system, who come from all walks of life to respond to the full range of emergencies covered by SFRS, including fires, road traffic collisions and water rescues.
Attending their station for a two or three hour training session every week ensures the crews maintain the firefighting, rescue and casualty care skills they need to protect the public.
Firefighter Lyons added: “I’ve always enjoyed being in the retained and even though there’s a lot of experience in the station you still get that sense of excitement when the alarm goes.
“We’ve obviously been to bad incidents but I’d definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about taking it up. The people you work with aren’t just colleagues – they really are close pals.
“My dad was in the retained for decades so I saw how much he enjoyed going out to training and that was one of the reasons I always wanted to do it.”
RDS firefighters receive a retainer fee in return for their commitment, as well as additional payments for every incident and training night they attend.
If you would like more information on how to become a retained firefighter visit the myjobscotland website and search for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.