Sunday Mail (UK) - - John Niven -

huge emo­tional re­sponse in me. You have to re­mem­ber fire­fight­ers are peo­ple. It doesn’t mat­ter if you’ve been in the job a few months or 30 years, you have a hu­man re­ac­tion.

“The first watch on the scene at Ge­orge Square were the same that had at­tended the Clutha the year be­fore. I can’t even be­gin to imag­ine the im­pact this had on these fire­fight­ers but they just kept go­ing – con­sum­mate pro­fes­sion­als as al­ways. I’m so proud of them.”

Alas­dair, who will be suc­ceeded as Chief Fire Off icer by Martin Blun­den in March, also praised the SFRS’s re­sponse to Storm Frank in De­cem­ber 2015.

He said: “Bal­later after the storm looked like a scene from a hur­ri­cane­hit Caribbean. The fire­fight­ers on the frontline would not come back in be­cause there were more peo­ple at night are the safety of my staff and get­ting the job right.”

He added: “Cre­at­ing a na­tional ser­vice is the best thing that ever hap­pened. It was founded on the need to save money.

“The Fire Ser­vice were in the mid­dle of a huge fi­nan­cial cri­sis. If we had stayed as eight sep­a­rate forces, I was afraid the sav­ings were go­ing to be made on the frontline. By cre­at­ing a na­tional ser­vice, it gave us the chance to stand up to the fi­nan­cial side of things.

“When I started out, there were 356 fire sta­tions in Scot­land and, five years on, there are still 356 fire sta­tions, which is some­thing I am very proud of.”

Alas­dair, whose am­bi­tion once he re­tires is to get his golf hand­i­cap down to sin­gle fig­ures, says the key to the Fire Ser­vice’s suc­cess in the

“Train­ing fire­fight­ers to be first re­spon­ders could help save hun­dreds of lives be­cause crews will be able to keep peo­ple alive un­til paramedics take over.

“These are just some of the lega­cies that have been set into mo­tion dur­ing my time as chief and, hope­fully, the new chief will con­tinue the jour­ney.”

Alas­dair, who lives in Dundee, added: “I’m proud to have been the first fire chief and I’m very grate­ful to have had the hon­our of work­ing with such in­cred­i­ble peo­ple.”

IN­SPIR­ING Top, fire­fighter Jim Sned­den res­cues a lit­tle girl in the Med. Left, a baby is saved dur­ing the Cameron House Ho­tel fire and, above, Glas­gow School of Art blaze. Far left, fire chief Alas­dair Pic­ture Jamie Wil­liamson

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