Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Crew Commander Darren Shaw
lives and works in the village of Sanquhar, in Dumfries and Galloway and carries a pager so that he can respond quickly to emergencies.
The dad-of-two also works for local meat production firm Brown Brothers. Remarkably, Brown Brothers employ three of Sanquhar’s Retained Duty System (RDS) firefighters.
Darren revealed: “I became aware of the role of the retained firefighter after speaking with an elderly neighbour, who had himself served for 20 years.
“It’s not something I had ever considered before, but when he spoke to me I realised it was something I could do which would help the community.
“There’s a real sense of it being there for your community – it’s up to you to respond when incidents do unfortunately happen and to also try to prevent things from happening.
“It’s a big commitment with family life and the level of availability required. But having a fire service here has multiple benefits – it’s definitely needed.”
The SFRS is on the look-out for retained firefighters across the country and is particularly keen to welcome more women as well as members of ethnic and LGBT+ communities.
The retained role is varied and can include prevention work such as free home fire safety visits where firefighters provide residents with safety advice and even check or install smoke detectors.
It can also include showing people of all ages how to perform CPR and potentially save a life.
Darren continued: “Being a retained firefighter brings a sense of pride. It does require a real commitment but we can do this with the support of our families and employers.
“Brown Brothers certainly realise the importance and value of retained firefighters and are also very supportive of local events and charities.”
Brown Brothers were recently awarded a plaque by the SFRS to acknowledge their commitment.
Station Commander Colin Wallace said: "For the local communities in Dumfries and Galloway, it is great to have a local employer who is so keen and community-focused.
“They support the local area by supporting us to serve the community in our role.
“Firms like Brown Brothers understand the importance of what the SFRS provide locally and recognise the benefits of the transferable skills for the company."
Brown Brothers Managing Director Lee Godfrey said: “I live two doors down from my own local retained station, so I know the necessity of this service for communities.
“We have 550 employees, many of who live locally – and we realise this is a service for the community.
“If the guys get a call and need to go we know it’s because they are going to potentially save a life. It’s very important and everyone respects the work they do.”