Spotlight on Benbecula: Retained firefighter living the dream in Outer Hebrides

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A retained firefighter has told how he seized the chance to protect communities – after starting a new life in the Outer Hebrides.

Anthony Graham"If it weren't for people like us, we wouldn't have a fire service here."

A retained firefighter has told how he seized the chance to protect communities – after starting a new life in the Outer Hebrides.

Anthony Graham, 34, moved from his Lanarkshire home to the Isle of Benbecula four years ago.

And he was delighted to finally pull on his Scottish Fire and Rescue Service uniform with pride after completing his training.

Anthony explained: “My wife is from Benbecula and got a job here as a primary teacher.

“When we moved up I got speaking to someone and couldn’t believe there was an opportunity to join the fire service.

 “Everyone when they’re young fancies being a firefighter, I always fancied it – it was always in my head to join.

“So, when the opportunity came up, I grabbed it – and it’s been brilliant.

“We all have other jobs, but if it weren’t for people like us, we wouldn’t have a fire service here.”

Now a fully trained RDS firefighter, Anthony also serves with Benbecula Airport’s Fire Service.

The high quality of training provided combined with a sense of pride in serving his local community has Anthony loving his role as part of a dedicated local team.

Serving a small community like Benbecula has opened Anthony’s eyes to the importance of having a full trained retained fire service on hand when required.

Benbecula PicPhoto Credit - Chris Downer

 Anthony said: “It is massively important in these small communities.

“Benbecula is the hub for this area – it is so important.

“We cover a large area and are called out to most big shouts.”

Anthony is keen to promote the role of an RDS firefighter to as many people as possible.

He said: “Becoming a retained firefighter is a brilliant opportunity for anyone who is keen.

“We are trained to a very high standard.

“There is a definite sense of pride as well. You are going out there and helping people.

“The biggest part is being there for people and providing a service.”

Iain Macleod is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland Islands.

He said: “Retained firefighters like Anthony step up when their communities need them the most.

“All across Scotland, rural communities are served by retained firefighters just like him – it is a service provided by the community, for the community.

“There is no doubt that recruitment can prove challenging and that is for a number of different reasons including the fact that people no longer work in their home towns.

“We are therefore now looking at a number of different options to reflect modern society to increase the availability of our RDS firefighters.

“These include a more flexible and responsive crewing option combined with the latest technologies and equipment.

“Together, these could allow RDS crews to respond more effectively and efficiently to a wide range of emergencies and meet the very unique needs of each rural community.

“I would encourage others to broaden their horizons, learn new skills and serve at the very heart of their communities by becoming a retained firefighter.”

Benbecula Fire Station is hosting an open night on Tuesday between 7pm and 9pm.

For more on what it takes to become a retained firefighter visit


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