The re­wards of be­com­ing a fire­fighter

Argyllshire Advertiser - - ADVERTORIA­L -

Al­lan MacIn­tyre from Ar­dr­ishaig joined the Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice re­tained unit in Lochgilp­head around four years ago. The 34-year-old says be­ing a fire­fighter is some­thing he had al­ways wanted to do, but due to work com­mit­ments he never ap­plied.

‘I think I was a lit­tle ap­pre­hen­sive about ap­ply­ing as I had heard it was hard to get in to,’ Al­lan ex­plained.

‘It was when I started work­ing in Lochgilp­head with the coun­cil in 2016 that I en­quired about be­ing a re­tained fire­fighter, as I felt I had the flex­i­bil­ity and wanted to give some­thing back to the com­mu­nity I lived in. The coun­cil was sup­port­ive, and I went along to the sta­tion’s drill night and asked a few ques­tions about the role. The guys at the sta­tion were re­ally help­ful and ex­plained how the on-call sys­tem worked. I then ap­plied and was suc­cess­ful af­ter some prac­ti­cal se­lec­tion tests and an in­ter­view.

‘I re­mem­ber my first shout well. When the pager went off I was at home eat­ing my lunch and I got such a fright I ran straight out the front door leav­ing my lunch be­hind. It was a smell of burn­ing from an elec­tri­cal unit at the hos­pi­tal which didn’t turn out to be much but it was still ex­cit­ing re­spond­ing and deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tion with the rest of the crew. When I got home that day my lunch was gone and there was a very guilty look­ing Labrador in the house, a mis­take which I have since learned from.

‘Be­ing a re­tained fire­fighter gave me the op­por­tu­nity to learn loads of new skills. There are the ob­vi­ous ones like first aid train­ing, but my peo­ple skills are much bet­ter and I’m a much more con­fi­dent per­son now. Be­ing able to use my skills and help peo­ple within my com­mu­nity is very re­ward­ing and def­i­nitely laid the foun­da­tions for want­ing to be­come a who­le­time fire­fighter.

‘When re­cruit­ment opened for whole-time fire­fight­ers, I ap­plied think­ing I may not even get in as it is such a pop­u­lar ca­reer. Be­ing re­tained helped with my ap­pli­ca­tion and I pro­gressed, af­ter suc­cess­ful se­lec­tion tests and in­ter­views, to be of­fered a full­time po­si­tion as a fire­fighter.

I then went to the na­tional train­ing cen­tre for a 14-week foun­da­tion course. I was posted to Blue Watch Oban which I was de­lighted with as this is the clos­est whole-time sta­tion to me. Since then I have learned loads of new skills, I am a qual­i­fied swift water res­cue tech­ni­cian, I have gained my LGV and trailer li­cence and I am also a qual­i­fied blue light driver.

‘I am now on a dual con­tract, which means I am still a part of the re­tained unit in Lochgilp­head as well as whole time in Oban. I cover a 90hour con­tract in Lochgilp­head which I cover on my days and nights off. My ex­pe­ri­ence as re­tained fire­fighter has helped me where I am to­day and I was glad I was given the op­por­tu­nity to serve the com­mu­nity.’

Al­lan con­tin­ued: ‘My fam­ily and friends are all re­ally sup­port­ive and are proud of my pro­gres­sion. My three-year-old boy loves it and ev­ery time the pager goes, he’s shout­ing: ‘Daddy, you need to go - quick daddy’. It can be hard some­times not to wake the house when the pager goes in the mid­dle of the night. You need to be well pre­pared with your clothes laid out ev­ery night ready to spring out of bed and out quickly. I first imag­ined it as be­ing the end of my so­cial life with hav­ing to cover so many hours but it isn’t like that at all. There is an on­line book­ing sys­tem which we or­gan­ise on a Mon­day night to­gether to make sure the week ahead is cov­ered and time off is fair for ev­ery­one.

‘For any­one think­ing about join­ing the re­tained I would urge them to con­tact the sta­tion or con­tact one of the crew mem­bers. They would be more than happy to show or dis­cuss with you what’s all in­volved. You will have to give up some time, but in re­turn you’ll get such a lot out of it and it’s great to be do­ing some­thing so mean­ing­ful in your com­mu­nity and, who knows, you may even find your­self in a whole new ca­reer like I have.’

Be­ing a re­tained fire­fighter gave me the op­por­tu­nity to learn loads of new skills You’ll get such a lot out of it, and it’s great to be do­ing some­thing so mean­ing­ful in your lo­cal com­mu­nity

For more in­for­ma­tion on join­ing the Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice, please con­tact your lo­cal fire sta­tion or email ve­rina.lit­ster@firescot­land.gov.uk

Al­lan with a ban­ner fea­tur­ing some well-known faces - left to right, Watch Com­man­der Dun­can Lit­ster, Lochgilp­head; Crew Com­man­der Mi­nard vol­un­teers Gail Cook; and Fire­fighter Dun­can MacBrayne, Lochgilp­head. no_a39SFRS_Al­lanMacIn­tyre 01

Al­lan MacIn­tyre: ‘You’ll get such a lot out of be­ing a fire­fighter.’

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