A Control Room staff member has revealed her passion for women's rights began at a march when she was a year old
10 March 2021
Melanie Gibb’s fire service career began in 1996 at Strathclyde Fire Brigade Headquarters in a support role, she later applied for the role of Operational Firefighter, but she found her true calling in Operations Control.
The 46-year-old said: “My first day, I arrived about an hour early because I was so nervous. There was a man who welcomed me in the door and took me for a cup of tea to calm me down.
“I would have sworn he was the janitor, but as it turns out he was Assistant Firemaster for Fire Safety, Bob Docherty. From that moment, I felt at home and everyone I’ve met since is just as nice.”
After a couple of years working in a support role, an opportunity presented itself to move to Operations Control.
Melanie recalled: “I was really excited about the prospect of working in the Control Room. I got through the tests and interviews for the job and took the next step in my career at Johnstone in 1998.
“It was quite daunting when I saw it for the first time, I felt like I was in an underground bunker with all the screens around and the huge map on the wall with green flashing lights.
“That’s also when I met my mentor who I would be sitting with and supported by for the next six months.” They remain good friends to this day, although she has now retired.
In 23 years, Melanie has been on shift during some really hard times, like the Clutha Bar and Stockline Plastics incidents which have stayed with her. In 2001, she delivered a presentation in front of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.
She said: “It wasn’t long after the new Control Room in Johnstone opened and I was selected to deliver a presentation about our mobilising system. The Queen and Prince Phillip, along with the Chief Officer, our Board Members and MSPs were there, I think the First Minister was there too.
“I had the opportunity to speak to Prince Phillip after and when he asked how long I’d been here, I nervously told him five years. He was amused when he told me that he meant that day. They were both really lovely and it's an experience I’ll never forget.”
In 2015, Melanie was promoted to Watch Commander and is eager to stand up for equality and diversity, a role she currently carries out for the Fire Brigades Union.
Melanie revealed “I’ve always been interested in doing the right thing for people and I’m really passionate about women’s rights. In fact, when I was about a year old, I attended my first women’s march organised by the Women's Peace Movement and that’s where it all started for me.”
Reflecting on her career so far, she said: “I’ve loved every minute of the fire service so far.
“It’s made up of the most amazing and supportive people and I saw that the minute I walked in the door on day one. It’s not been without its challenges, but I wouldn’t change a minute of it.”