Senior officer explains why he joined the Fire Service ahead of Twitter Q&A

  Publish Date:

by Irina Wilkie

A HIGH-ranking fire chief who left school with no qualifications is set to host a live Twitter Q&A to encourage people from all walks of life to become a wholetime firefighter.

Peter Heath was accepted into the Fire Service and supported through TWO university Masters Degrees before rising to become Deputy Assistant Chief Officer for the West of Scotland. 

And he wants to reach out through the social media platform on Friday, March 15 to those considering following in his footsteps as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service prepares to open its latest recruitment drive.

He will be joined by Sarah Larios of the Service's HR team.

DACO Heath said: "I can't wait to engage once again with all the various different people out there who are seeking to join this fantastic Service.

"I hosted a live Twitter session for the first time ever during our last wholetime recruitment campaign and it struck me that people do require to know things that I take for granted after almost three decades of service.

"It just shows how important it is to have that direct, two-way communication - it was clearly beneficial and I hope to have inspired others to take the first step towards achieving their ambition by applying to join us."

The Service is actively reaching out to under-represented groups who identify as, for example, LGBT-plus or as ethnic minorities and also women.


This diversity drive was outlined by Liz Barnes, SFRS Director of People and Organisational Development, when she launched her #BreakTheMould campaign ahead of wholetime firefighter recruitment opening on March 21.

DACO Heath said: "We are actively working to represent the very rich and diverse communities we serve - and we are waiting here with open arms to support people every step of the way.

"This is a Service that prides itself in being able to respond effectively not only to fires and water rescue but partnership working and preventing harm from arising in the first place through our Home Fire Safety Visits and CPR demonstrations, to name just a few examples.

"It is a varied role and there is great scope within a truly remarkable Service that also offers career progression and further learning opportunities."

The father-of-one has spoken of his own route into the Service. 

He was born and raised in the small village of Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders, one of five children to Peter Snr. and Joyce

DACO Heath added: "When I grew up, you would leave school and either go into the mills or a trade - or you went on the dole. It was only every now and then you heard of some mythical person who went to university but that seemed way beyond my grasp.”

He did a stint working in the local sawmill before going to work for himself in forestry, cutting down and planting trees, as well as a range of other jobs and going on to marry wife Catriona when he was aged 20.


She gave birth to their only child shortly after, daughter Jade now aged 30.

He said: “I started to think about what I was going to do with my life ... I was increasingly uncomfortable that I didn't have a focus in life.”

The young father applied for a wholetime firefighter position with the former Lothian and Borders Fire Service in 1992, aged 25.

And – “despite lots of people telling me I wouldn't get in” – he secured one of just 13 posts … out of an astonishing 2,300 applications. 

He quickly rose through the ranks and was actively encourage to shoot for further education.

And the veteran firefighter now holds a Master Degree in Business Administration, a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management - achieved with distinction - as well as a Post Graduate Executive Diploma in Management and National General Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health.

DACO Heath also achieved the award of Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and has served on the Scottish board which sets U.K management standards as well as being a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

The dedicated professional is currently a trustee and Board member of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Family Support Trust.

And he is also responsible for protecting communities across the West of Scotland, the busiest Service Delivery Area in the country.

DACO Heath leads 127 stations and around 1,500 personnel across the West which is - with the exception of London – a service  area larger than many Fire and Rescue Services across the UK.

He said: “I spent the first half of my adult life being embarrassed by my lack of qualifications and I've spent the second half of my life mentoring others to achieve. I always knew I was capable and just needed the opportunity to show what I could do.

“I'm a confident person but education has allowed me to grow; that professional recognition has been empowering - and that's all down to the Fire Service which has allowed me to excel beyond anything I thought I could ever achieve.

“My contribution and payback for the faith shown in me is to use this experience to encourage others who may be in a similar position to come forward - and just go for it.” 

If you are inspired by Peter’s story and would like to apply to become a firefighter, visit: /work-with-us/wholetime-firefighter-recruitment.aspx

Our Latest News