Kinloch Rannoch volunteer firefighters

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By Steven O'Neill

Within the depths of rural Perthshire lies a small picturesque village called Kinloch Rannoch. 

On the banks of Loch Rannoch around 18 miles from Pitlochry it sits on the base of a hill named “The Sleeping Giant” – a hill that can be seen on the hit TV series ‘Outlander’.

With one pub, two hotels, a primary school with less than 16 children and a population of around 750 it is one of the most remote areas in the region.

Many areas across Scotland will fall into a similar category where they tend to have smaller communities much the same as Kinloch Rannoch.

With that smaller community comes a more unique firefighter role where crews work on a call out basis.

Kinloch Rannoch fire station is crewed completely by volunteer firefighters and covers one of the largest geographical areas in the Perthshire area.

It is one of 282 stations that is covered by either volunteer or retained firefighters – almost 80 per cent of Scotland’s total fire stations.

Equipped with a pager system volunteer and retained firefighters work normal jobs, but will drop everything at a moments notice in an emergency situation.

Crew Manager James Black has served as a volunteer firefighter at Kinloch Rannoch fire station for 24 years – he is a joiner by trade and a firefighter when his community needs him.

He said: “Given that it’s a small community most people know I am a firefighter.

“When our pager goes off another human being is in need of our help, whether it’s a bin on fire or a house on fire someone at that moment needs us.

“You can tell that people in the area really appreciate that sometimes you’ll have to give up your daily job to help someone out.

He added: “Although they understand it can be interesting when I’m in the middle of putting on someone’s door!”

He continued: “I joined as a volunteer because my father was a firefighter for 34 years before me.

“I wanted the chance to serve my community and also become part of the community at the same time. The fire service is one of the only parts left and I was determined to help keep that going.”

Kinloch Rannoch fire station currently has six firefighters available for call outs.

Like many other stations across Scotland they are actively looking for more firefighters to join the crew.

Volunteer firefighters at the station commit four hours per month for training and can be called out to incidents such as wildfires, water rescue and road traffic collisions to name a few.

To join, each member will complete a two week initial training course where they learn how to stablise a car and rescue people in the water using line rescue techniques.

Firefighter Jordan McCabe, 26, has recently been through the course and joined Kinloch Rannoch’s crew, he said: “Once you get to the training stage, its good fun and you learn a lot of new skills.

“It’s something different and I’m part of a great team, it’s like a family.

“The new skills have helped me with normal day to day things such as realising what can trigger a fire and also with my full-time job with simple things like tying knots and lines.”

Crew members are paid for each call out and for the training nights required to stay concurrent.

At Kinloch Rannoch you must live or work within 20 minutes of the station to be able to attend an emergency call however these times can differ throughout the country.

Crew Manager Black added: “If anyone was interested in joining I’d suggest to them to arrange a visit to their local station to meet the crew.

“Crews across the country are more than happy to talk to people, so come in a have a cup of tea, talk about the role and you can see if we are a good fit for you and you are a good fit for us”.  

If you are over the age of 18 and interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, please email 

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