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Six retained and volunteer firefighters have clocked up a combined service of more than 240 years between them protecting some of Argyll’s most remote communities.
Mull trio Richard Henderson, Iain Noble and Gordon Rutherford along with Islay’s Graeme Smith, Kimelford-based Donald Smith, and Ronald Ross from Arrochar have each dedicated the last four decades of their lives to keeping people safe.
‘Serving your community as a retained or volunteer firefighter is a huge commitment. To continue to do so for 40 years is an absolutely incredible achievement and I would like to thank them all for their service over the years.
‘Each one of them has made a huge difference to their local area during this time, and they have played their part in protecting their neighbours and visitors to these areas,’ said Argyll Area Commander Joe McKay, local senior officer for East and West Dunbartonshire.
Ian Nobel, whose day job is keeping the fleet of West Coast Motors buses on the road, is a Watch Commander at Tobermory Fire Station. He joined the service following in his dad’s footsteps.
‘My dad served for more than 28 years and any chance I got as a youngster I was at the station. By the time I joined up he was my gaffer!
‘I really enjoy my role and have a great crew who make the station what it is. We have enormous pride in the service we provide to our communities and we get huge support from them,’ he added.
Ronnie Ross also got the bug to sign up early in his life. He said: ‘My dad was in the service in Arrochar from its inauguration in 1961 and I grew up with alarms going off in the home to alert him to incidents. As soon as I was old enough I applied to join and I finally secured a post in 1980.’
Builder Ronnie added: ‘I’ve attended many incidents and still get the same adrenaline rush when the pager is activated. The need to help and assist folk in their hour of need is still strong. I have learned and benefited from the training in many ways which has helped me in my private life and employment.’
It was not so much as a calling as a command for marine mechanical and electrical engineer Donald Smith that led to him joining up.
‘I was ordered by my father-in-law to apply and when I thought about it I knew that I was able to respond and help my community and I signed up. I’ve had a great 40 years and I also enjoy the social side of the service and raising money for charity,” he said.
When crofter Gordon Rutherford of Bunessan is not busy tending to his prize-winning sheep he is busy with his day job as stonemason at Iona Abbey.
Self-employed builder Richard Henderson started off his fire service career in Tobermory then moved to the station in Salen after getting married, and Bowmore mechanic Graeme Smith’s father and uncle both served as firefighters locally, so he choose to follow the same path.
When Covid restrictions allow ease, the firefighters will have their service recognised and be thanked in person for their achievements.
Graeme Smith was thanked earlier this month for his commitment when AC McKay visited Islay to meet with the crews based there.
Mr McKay said: ‘The wealth of experience they have gained has allowed them to contribute to the development of our current crews and will ensure the skill and professionalism they have displayed over the years continues with the future generations.
‘We are always keen to hear from people of all backgrounds and walks of life who want to consider a rewarding career like the ones described.’
Interested in joining? Visit www.firescotland.gov.uk/work-with-us/retained-firefighters.aspx