AYRSHIRE’S longest serving retained firefighter still recalls saving the life of a toddler – nearly two decades later.
Watch Manager Fred Williams has served at the station of his hometown in Dalry for 43 years.
The 63-year-old spoke about his long-stretching career ahead of his retirement later this year.
And he revealed the impact of saving the toddler’s life remains his most poignant memory.
Fred said: “We were called to a dwelling fire in the local area – maybe sometime around 1999.
“There was a baby rescued from the building but it wasn’t breathing.
“The ambulance had been called but they hadn’t arrived – it was up to us to stabilise the wee yin.
“Me and another firefighter administered CPR for around 20 minutes and thankfully got a response.
“Saving that youngster’s life has stayed with me all this time – although saving lives is what firefighters do it never fails to hit home the value of what you do.”
When Fred, a father-of-two and grandfather-of-five, isn’t responding to emergencies he works as a hydrant maintenance operator.
Although he notes the support of his crew, loyal Fred pins the success of his job to the support of his wife, retired school clerk Joyce, who he has been married to for 44 years.
He added: “Joyce and the kids have been great over the years – if it wasn’t for Joyce’s patience then I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
“The support of your other half makes a big difference no matter what job you do.
“But it’s important to know you’re not just making a commitment to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – you’re committing to your crew.
“The firefighters need you just as much as the public do.
“It’s not a job for slackers because it’s not one of those roles where if you can’t be bothered then people say ‘Oh, you’re just letting yourself down’ because you’re not – you’re letting down the crew, the service and ultimately it could cost someone’s life.
“Being a retained firefighter is a big commitment and not for the faint-hearted but if you sign up and invest then the rewards are immeasurable.”
Retained Duty Service (RDS) Firefighters are called to attend the same wide range of emergency incidents as their whole-time colleagues such as fires, floods, road traffic collisions and chemical incidents.
Stations at Dalry, Beith & Kilbirnie are looking to increase their staff numbers to enhance the professional service already provided to the Garnock Valley Area by RDS units.
An RDS recruitment evening will be held in Dalry Community Fire Station at 6:30pm on Monday 6 March.
Station Manager Derek Davidson said: “RDS Firefighters provide a critical service within local communities which are often rural and some distance away from a whole-time fire station.
“The individuals come from diverse backgrounds and bring a variety of experiences to the role.
“As they are local to their respective areas they have a sense of pride in being able to provide a service within their own communities and additionally are very aware of any specific risks or hazards within the immediate area.”
He added: “The majority of RDS Firefighters have primary employment, often within the local town or village and this allows them to be available to respond to the needs of the service and the community when they are most needed.
The very fact that it’s a vital and rewarding job providing a lifesaving service has tangible benefits for local employers who provide support and allow their staff to become RDS Firefighters.”
Anyone interested in becoming an RDS Firefighter within their local community should come along to the event to discuss the role requirements and how they can formally apply for a post on the myjobscotland website.
For more information on the role of a retained Firefighter.