Senior Lochaber fire officer thanks retained and volunteer crews and appeals for more to join

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Group Manager for Lochaber Pat McElhinney pays tribute to the area's firefighters for their hard work and commitment in 2014

Tanker - Gullane

A senior fire officer is urging Lochaber residents to help protect their communities from fire in the same selfless way their neighbours, families and friends who work as retained firefighters have done for the past year.

Group Manager for Lochaber Pat McElhinney would like to take the opportunity to make a fresh appeal for new retained firefighters and at the same time praise the current retained and volunteer ranks for their commitment in 2014.

He said: “As we head quickly towards Christmas and 2015, I would like to thank our retained and volunteer crews for all their hard work throughout the year.

“Since the inception of the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, we have changed and evolved, at a rate not experienced before within any UK fire and Rescue Service.

“This process has its challenges, and hurdles, but I am thankful to have such a committed group of individuals within our service.”

He added: “Our retained and volunteer crews provide a fantastic service and deliver a professional and dedicated response to emergencies throughout the year.

“Without their help, support and commitment, we would not be able to provide such a service to our communities.”  

GM McElhinney said he would also like to thank employers and the families of his crews for their amazing support.

He said: “I recognise that the commitment required to do this job comes at a price and I would like to thank the families of our crews for the sacrifices you continue to make in supporting your loved ones and your communities.

“I would also like to thank our crews’ primary employers who provide them with the required level of flexibility for them to carry out their duties as retained firefighters.”

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging more men and women to sign up and enjoy ‘a life less ordinary’ by becoming retained firefighters at stations across Lochaber.

The RDS (Retained Duty System) consists of part time firefighters who provide a vital service to the communities in which they live and work.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is also appealing to people who can provide the service with fire cover during the day between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

SFRS believes there may be men or women who are at home during the day whilst their children are at school and they could potentially provide fire cover during daytime hours. This specific approach has already been used in Wales and saw a positive response from the public.

To become a retained firefighter you should be eligible to work in the UK and be 18 years or over, preferably live within one mile and work within two miles, or work within eight minutes of your nearest station.

You will be available to respond to emergency calls via pager from your home or place of work at any time of the day or night, if you are on call that week. You will also have the permission from your employer to become an RDS firefighter. You’ll also be expected to attend a two and a half hour training session (drill night) one night a week.

You should be available to attend training courses designed to provide you with the basic training needed to start your role as an RDS firefighter. Your ongoing training and development will be provided at your local fire station. Successful candidates will be subject to a Disclosure Scotland criminal record check.

There is also a financial benefit when you join the retained service with an annual retainer starting at £2158, which is split into monthly payments, together with additional payments for every incident and training night you attend.

There is no financial cost to employers and your employee will receive training from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service worth a significant amount of money in directly transferrable skills.

GM McElhinney added: “Having a retained firefighter working for you will also have tangible benefits for your company, as well as the local community. For example they may have first aid or health and safety skills which will be invaluable.

 “Although there is a commitment by employers it should be manageable. The system is very flexible and if there are important commitments at work then these will clearly take precedence over staff’s retained roles.”

As an RDS firefighter you will not only be making a positive contribution to the safety of your community, but also learning invaluable life and team working skills, which should increase understanding and be welcomed by your employer.

The time away from your job will be minimal compared to the significant overall benefits your company or business will enjoy. You may be called away to an emergency at very short notice, but the additional skills you will bring to the workplace will more than make up for that.

So if you would like to enjoy a real sense of social responsibility, help protect the community in which you live and are looking to ‘live a life less ordinary,’ then get in touch and see how becoming an RDS firefighter could change your life and give you a sense of tremendous satisfaction.”

If you would like to find out more about becoming a ‘local hero’ visit the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website or to complete an application form to join the RDS in the north visit