Lochinver community consultation to find new retained firefighters hailed success

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The meeting held on Monday "exceeded" fire service's expectations with 12 members of community expressing interest in joining

Lochinver RDS Consultation

SFRS's Local Senior Officer for Highland Scott Hay speaking to community members at meeting in Lochinver on Monday

A recent community consultation held in Lochinver to look at ways in which Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) could attract new retained firefighters has been hailed a massive success.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager Mark Loynd said he is delighted with the response from the local community with 12 Lochinver residents actively expressing an interest in applying to become retained firefighters.

For a period of over two years Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has been struggling to recruit replacement firefighters for its Lochinver Community Fire Station.

In April 2014 the dwindling numbers of fully trained firefighters led to the Lochinver fire appliance becoming unavailable to respond to operational incidents.  Various recruitment initiatives over this time have had limited success. 

Last Monday (7 December 2015) SFRS hosted a community engagement event at Lochinver Community Fire Station with the aim of informing interested Lochinver occupants of the role of a Retained Duty System (RDS) firefighter.

Station Manager Mark Loynd said: “We highlighted the entrance requirements, the benefits of firefighter training to both the individual and their employer, the current challenges to recruitment and the benefits to the Lochinver community of having local personnel who can actively work to prevent emergencies and effectively respond to them when required.”

Monday’s event was attended by about twenty five local residents and supported by the Lochinver Community Council, local Highland Councillors and senior SFRS managers from Highland.

Lochinver residents were keen to discuss various aspects of RDS firefighter recruitment including: the impact of seasonal work in Lochinver on firefighter attendance at initial training courses; the potential for a flexible approach to station response times; support for applicants to reach fitness standards; potential mobile telecommunications dead spots; entrance medicals and fire appliance driving requirements.

The group was also informed of the recent availability of SFRS crew members, fire stations and equipment for teaching Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to any interested individuals or groups.

Station Manager Loynd said: “To have 12 members of the Lochinver community come forward and express an interest in becoming retained firefighters exceeded all expectations and creates the potential for a fully crewed Lochinver Community Fire Station within the next year.

“A smaller meeting will now be arranged between the local SFRS Station Manager and the potential firefighters to discuss the recruitment process and their individual commitment in more detail.

“We would like to express our thanks to the Lochinver community and its supporters for achieving this initial success.”