A tradesman who helps protect his rural Perthshire village is urging others to step up and become volunteer firefighters.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Crew Commander James Black has served the scenic community of Kinloch Rannoch for close to a quarter of a century.
Balancing the emergency role with his primary employment as a joiner and family life, the dad of two is well versed on the commitment required to serve as a volunteer firefighter.
Responding to emergencies via an on call pager system, volunteer firefighters train and serve communities across Scotland.
Growing up with a dad in the volunteer role, joining his local fire crew was almost a rite of passage for James.
He explained: “My dad served during a different era, but was involved for 34 years.
“It helped influence my decision to join, but with a limited group of people in the village who can apply, I help because I can.
“On a good day, we are 45 minutes away from the next nearest station.
“The commitment is difficult and people do need to realise the level of commitment required before they apply.
“But, for me, being there for the community and doing my bit because I can is very important.”
Volunteer firefighters respond to a variety of incidents including fires and road traffic collisions.
They also carry out a range of prevention efforts to highlight the dangers of deliberate fire-setting and help identify potential domestic hazards while installing free smoke detectors.
James has first-hand experience of witnessing the life-saving benefits of prevention.
He explained: “One of the incidents which helps highlight the importance of the work we do took place at a house we had recently fitted a smoke detector in.
“On that occasion, we attended a house fire at the property and realised we had recently carried out a home fire safety visit and installed the detector.
“The detector saved the owner and the house. It was a good outcome and has always stuck in my mind as an example of why volunteer firefighters are so important.”
He added: “I’d say to anyone who is considering becoming a volunteer firefighter to visit their local station, meet the crew and speak with them.
“We’re here to help and if you decide to join then you won’t regret it.”
The SFRS is on the look-out for volunteer firefighters across the country and is particularly keen to welcome more women as well as members of ethnic and LGBT+ communities.
The volunteer role is varied and can include prevention work such as free home fire safety visits where firefighters provide residents with safety advice and even check or install smoke detectors.
It can also include showing people of all ages how to perform CPR and potentially save a life.
Anyone considering a career as a volunteer firefighter should get in touch with their local station.