Former shopkeeper is now a firefighter at the station across from his old shop

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by Sean Rooney

A former newsagent now leads a crew of firefighters in responding to emergencies – from the fire station across the road from the shop he used to own.

Mani Dhesi left the shop counter and joined the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service after being inspired by their accounts of protecting the public.

And the father-of-two – who can speak FOUR languages – is now playing a vital role in bringing the SFRS closer to its diverse communities.

He spoke about his inspiration as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service launches a national recruitment campaign.

The 47-year-old said: “My family used to own some stores around the Springburn area of Glasgow.

“I was working in the one directly across the road from Springburn Community Fire Station.

“I knew the guys in there well because every day I was seeing them, hearing their stories and watching them head out on shouts.

“Slowly, and with their encouragement, I began to realise that being a firefighter was what I wanted to do. As soon as the stores were sold or rented, I signed straight up.”

Mani, now a Watch Manager, added: “It was strange later on as I would see these guys after joining the service – and in some cases even be their gaffer – and now I’m working in that very station.”

The keen rugby fan also revealed his pride in being a role model, working as a coach for local youth teams.

And the family man, who has two sons Arron and Zac is a practicing Sikh who speaks fluent Punjabi, Hindi - and Urdu!

He said: “My family is originally from India, and my grandfather fought for the British Army.

“One of the main things I enjoy is being able to bring the SFRS community and the Sikh and Indian communities together.

“I am a regular sight at the local temple – a bit of an unofficial fire safety ambassador.

“When we do organise events, we are seeing more and more Sikh representation from all the emergency services and the British army as well as SFRS – it’s fantastic.

“Youngsters might not have known who to speak to or contact or may not have had the confidence to come forward and speak to us.

“But we are going to them and I am very proud to be able to do this and be a positive role model in the community, break down language barriers and promote our safety messages too.”

Now Mani has called on others to follow in his footsteps.

He said: “The best thing I could say to someone is to come and speak to us – you see people open up after a quick chat and they begin to realise that becoming a firefighter really is something that they could accomplish.”

Applications to become a wholetime firefighter are now live on MyJobScotland - follow the link to start your application now -

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