Firefighter delays retirement after 42 years of service to protect communities

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Andy Bathgate 1

AN on-call firefighter who was due to hang up his helmet after 42 years of service this week has voluntarily delayed his retirement to continue protecting his community during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Andy Bathgate took the decision to stay on at Linlithgow Community Fire Station until the current crisis has subsided.

The 62-year-old grandfather became a retained firefighter in November 1977 and has lived with his pager by his side seven days a week ever since, ready to respond to 999 calls in Linlithgow and surrounding areas.

His offer comes as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service asks former and retired staff members to return to the frontline and help the service continue responding to emergencies across Scotland during the coronavirus outbreak.

Andy said: “It was the right thing to do, for the crew and for the community.

“I have seen a lot in my time with the service, and we have been through some tough times, but I’m ready to keep responding.

“I couldn’t walk away just now, I’m born and bred in Linlithgow and this community means everything to me and the crew are always looking for more people .”

Andy is one of dozens of former staff and retired staff who are returning to the frontline to protect communities with the SFRS.

However, Andy admits he is still ready for his retirement, and spending some much needed time with his family once the crisis has ended.

He said: “When you get to my age, you start looking to your family more and wanting to spend more time with them.

“I’ve been retained now for a long time and it can take up a lot of what would be that family time with my wife, children, grandchildren.

“But I love being a retained firefighter and I love my community – I’m going to keep doing what I can for the community in other ways.”

Area Commander David Lockhart is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for Falkirk and West Lothian.

He said: “We as a Service and our emergency service partners face an unprecedented challenge during this national crisis.

“To minimise the impact on our emergency response during the course of this pandemic, we have been looking at ways to invite people who have recently retired – firefighters and others with specialist skills – to come back and cover any predicted shortages.

“We have also seen a number of individuals, such as Andy, offer to postpone their much earned retirement to continue working to protect their communities through this difficult period.

“I must thank Andy for his unwavering commitment to the community of Linlithgow now, and for the last 42 years.

“More than ever, firefighters are being asked to do a difficult job in difficult conditions, and the dedication and spirit shown by Andy and others like him will help us to continue to provide a resilient emergency service throughout Scotland.”

ENDS

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