International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world
The most powerful woman in the UK’s largest fire and rescue service has spoken of her vision to do so much more to protect Scotland’s communities.
Dr Kirsty Darwent is the recently appointed Chair of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board.
Equipped with a professional background in health, social and community care, Kirsty’s ambition is to help lead the SFRS through proposed transformation.
This would see firefighters trained and equipped to perform a broader role in meeting new and emerging risks including terrorism and severe weather.
Kirsty spoke as the country marks International Women’s Day.
This event takes place today - Thursday, March 8 - and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world.
Kirsty, who has served on the SFRS Board since 2012, said: “I admire the fire service for their ‘can do’ attitude, and I wanted to be a part of that.
“I firmly believe that once you are in the fire service, it very quickly grabs hold of you and you feel an attachment and loyalty to the organisation – which I have never experienced before.
“You become part of a wider network or family, which serves a bigger purpose.
“When I came into the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, I came in with the belief that it was world leading - and that is a position that I want to maintain.”
Kirsty is a mum-of-two and has a PHD in psychology and health. Her husband previously served with the Royal Navy and is now a pilot with British Airways.
She has a keen sense of how partnership working can better assist and protect communities, and is committed to shaping the Service's transformation vision.
The Board Chair said: “I want to make good use of all of the skills and experience that we have as an organisation as well as the skills our firefighters carry with them and embody.
“I also want to expand into new roles which inevitably are going to involve addressing Scotland’s wider risks and challenges, whether that’s about climate change or the growing elderly population.
“Looking at some of the incidents we have responded to, when people don’t know who can help - it is the fire service that gets called.”
Over the coming months the SFRS will feature more accounts of its inspirational women.
Kirsty added: “I pay tribute to all the women in our service, from our operational firefighters and Control firefighters, to our hard-working support staff, managers and executive colleagues – all working together and pulling in the same direction.
“But I am proud of every single member of the SFRS, working throughout Scotland to make a difference across every single community. They are amazing and I will continue to fly the flag and raise the profile of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service at every available opportunity.”
Photo shows: (L-R) Liz Barnes (Acting Director of People and Organisational Development), Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing MSP, Dr Kirsty Darwent, Fiona Thorburn (Board member), Anne Buchanan (Board member) and Sarah O'Donnell (Director of Finance and Contractual Services).