The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has appointed a head of service delivery for the West of Scotland.
Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Paul Connelly will oversee the seven areas served by dedicated SFRS local senior officers, co-ordinating their efforts to benefit every community in the region.
He was previously the local senior officer for East and West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute – an area including some of Scotland’s most remote communities as well as large towns and districts on the Glasgow City boundary.
The promotion is the culmination of almost 29 years’ service in a career that has involved postings at fire stations, training centres and area commands throughout the west of Scotland.
Mr Connelly said: “It’s a great honour to be asked to take on this role and help ensure every community benefits from the national approaches available to us now that we are a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
“We’re in a very strong position – there’s a wealth of experience among our operational crews, control room personnel and support staff across the west.
“We also have tremendous partnerships in place with all 13 local authorities, the five NHS boards and of course the police and ambulance services, which are crucial to protecting our communities from fire and other emergencies.
“I’m here to bring things together and make sure we continue to deliver the excellent fire and rescue cover the public expect and deserve.”
Paul, who lives in Clydebank, joined the fire service in 1986 when he was assigned to a crew at nearby Milngavie.
He then served as a leading firefighter at Greenock before moving into Glasgow for a three year stint instructing firefighters in the use of breathing apparatus.
On his return to frontline duties he remained in the city, taking charge of Knightswood and Yorkhill stations before further promotion in 1999 saw him join the then Central Command team, which oversaw fire service operations across Greater Glasgow.
He became the senior officer for Argyll and Bute in 2008 and with the launch of SFRS in April 2013 his remit was extended to include East and West Dunbartonshire.
Paul added: “I’ve been fortunate to work with great people throughout my time in the service and I know how much our communities value the courage, skill and professionalism of their firefighters.
“Of course our crews provide an absolutely vital frontline emergency service, but their role goes far beyond responding to 999 calls.
“Every day sees our firefighters out in their communities working to reach those who may be at greatest risk, raising awareness of hazards and helping people take action to keep themselves and those around them safe.
“Unfortunately during my career I have seen, at first hand and on too many occasions, the destruction and loss that a fire can inflict on a family and community.”
He reminded everyone that firefighters throughout the west of Scotland provide free home fire safety visits to help residents address the common causes of fire, adding that the short visits are always arranged for a time to suit the householder.
Crews conducting the visits help people develop a fire action plan so they know what to do in an emergency and even install free smoke alarms where these are needed.
Paul continued: “People are familiar with the idea of firefighters working alongside other emergency responders at the scene of incidents, but the reality is we now operate side-by-side with fellow professionals from a wide range of agencies to prevent incidents happening.
“The partnerships we have with dementia nurses, social workers, teachers, housing officers or youth workers all make a real difference to protecting our communities from tragedy.
“We’re determined to continue building on this success and constantly improve the service we deliver to every community in the west of Scotland, but we also need the public’s help to reach those who can be most at risk.
“Everyone has a role to play in preventing incidents and the tragedies they bring. We want people to give us a call, send us a text or contact us online if they think someone they know could use some support.
“Firefighters throughout the west of Scotland know of far too many cases where families have been shattered through fires that could have been easily prevented.
“If you keep an eye on an older relative or friend, someone who has physical or mental health issues, or who maybe misuses alcohol or drugs, then we really want you to put us in touch with them.”
People can arrange a free home fire safety visit and join Scotland's fight against fire by calling SFRS on the freephone number 0800 073 1999 or by texting ‘FIRE’ to 80800, which is also free of charge.
Alternatively, visits can be arranged via the SFRS website www.firescotland.gov.uk.