Water rescue expert vows to help protect communities

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Ian Findlay is currently the only flood tactical adviser in Scotland and has been appointed as the SFRS Local Senior Officer for Aberdeenshire and Moray.

A water rescue expert appointed as the Scottish Fire Rescue Service’s new Local Senior Officer for Aberdeenshire and Moray has vowed to work hard with partners to protect communities from new and emerging threats.

Ian Findlay has almost a quarter of a century of experience under his belt and has previously worked to protect rural areas such as Oban in Argyll and Bute as well as Lanarkshire and the more urban environments such as the City of Glasgow.

The flood tactical adviser also assists water rescue operations across Scotland and has vowed to use his expertise to protect Aberdeenshire and Moray - hit by severe weather related flooding caused by Storm Frank in 2015.

And he says forging close links with local authority and emergency service partners is a key priority.

LSO Findlay said: “There are 40 flood tactical advisors in the UK, but I am the only one in Scotland at the moment, with more being trained now – so it is crucial that I share this knowledge with our firefighters who stand on the front line. 

“This area has been quite severely affected by flooding in the past; in places like Ballater but also throughout and across the North.

“I pay testament to the fortitude of those communities who rallied in the aftermath of this devastation and to our firefighters who worked so hard along with our partners to keep people safe - in the most challenging circumstances.”

He added: “I am a great believer in the need to build strong and positive links with our local authority and emergency service partners, to ensure we put the needs of local people to the front and centre of everything we do.

“We regularly train and prepare with the police and ambulance service to ensure we respond quickly and effectively to a whole range of incidents, which is crucial.

“It is also important that communities feel they are involved and we make every attempt to reach out where possible, including through safety initiatives, also teaching lifesaving skills such as CPR and even charitable events.

“It is also key that there is a healthy level of scrutiny and accountability of everything that we do, and we also regularly report in to our local authority partners to provide the most current snapshot within the region - and our ongoing action.”

Also an expert in rope rescue and urban search and rescue, Ian is keen to share this additional area of expertise as the Service looks to transform to do so much more to protect Scotland’s communities.

The rise of modern risks include not only severe weather related flooding but terrorism and a growing elderly and vulnerable population increasingly calling upon the support of SFRS to stay safe. 

LSO Findlay said: “There is absolutely no doubt that training and equipping our firefighters in technical areas of expertise such as rope rescue and urban search and rescue is key in our modern society.

“It means they can respond to a whole variety of different types of incident including at the very sharp end but also particularly in rural areas where rope rescue can be required to reach people who have fallen from height in challenging to reach areas.

“I also understand and value greatly the need to care for the most vulnerable and elderly in our society.

“In this region we also ran our very successful Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest trials in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service which, across Scotland, helped save 41 lives.”

Through his work as LSO, Ian hopes he can change people’s perceptions on what firefighters do. He said: “The job title firefighter doesn’t cut it any more.

“It is clear that we do a lot more than just fight fires and I am so proud to be part of an organisation that is looking to lead the way in Scotland’s public sector.” 

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