When the Borders station opened in 2000, there were 45 applicants to become firefighters, and 15 were successful. Still serving from that very first crew are Watch Commander (WC) John Connell and Crew Commander (CC) Dougie Scott.
Both are retained firefighters and balance being on call for their local community with holding down full-time jobs.
CC Scott is a postal worker. He was a leading firefighter at the crew’s first call out, which was to a horse transporter alight.
CC Scott said: “The first incident was the day after the station officially opened, and I drove to this call, as I was a selected driver. My heart was racing. We were supervised by a full-time Sub Officer, everything went to plan and our training kicked in.
“It was the start of 20 years enjoyable service with great highs and the inevitable lows.
“The camaraderie and team work of my colleagues help to lift you when times are hard, and I always remember that no matter what, I am helping our community at their time of need.”
When the Station opened, full-time farmer, WC Connell was Lauder Fire Station’s Sub Officer.
WC Connell said: “I was honoured to join the crew at Lauder and to lead them as Sub Officer. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, and it’s been a rollercoaster.
“We have served our Community on over 2,000 occasions, but it’s only a small part of the picture. We are available for them 24/7, working around our families and main jobs as well.
“There’s great satisfaction in talking to a member of the community about joining and their journey to become part of the crew, which is like a family.
“I continue to be honoured and proud to be part of the Lauder crew, to serve our community, and I intend to do so for many years to come.”
Lauder Fire Station was officially opened on September 1, 2000 by HRH The Princess Royal.
Retained firefighter Christine Jaffray was part of the first crew. She’s since left the Service and she’s also the aunt of current Scottish Borders Group Commander (GC) Michael Jaffray.
She met Princess Anne at the official opening which was reported in the Border Telegraph newspaper on September 5, that year.
She said: "The Princess asked me how my family felt about me being a firefighter and what I did as my main job? I told her my family are fine with what I do and I'm a registered nurse, which can come in handy when I'm called out.
"I decided to become a firefighter because it was a challenge for me and it was something for the community that I could be involved in. They had an open day and I thought I would give it a go, I never thought for a minute that I would actually make it, but here I am.”
Lauder Fire Station celebrated the milestone occasion with a socially distanced ceremony.
This was attended by Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) John Dickie, Deputy Assistant Chief Officer (DACO) David Lockhart, Local Senior Officer (LSO) Steve Gourlay, GC Michael Jaffray, Station Commander (SC) Don MacNeil, and the Lauder crew.
ACO, John Dickie was involved in the initial and continuous training of the Lauder crew for their first three years.
He said: “It was very satisfying to observe the team develop from limited knowledge and experience as trainee firefighters to being signed off as ready to go on the run protecting the community of Lauder. Now 20 years on, it was good to meet and chat with some of the original crew again on the anniversary of the station going on the run.”
The SFRS is currently on the look-out for retained firefighters in areas across Scotland.
Retained firefighters must be aged 18 or over, live within five to eight minutes’ drive of their local station and have the permission of their primary employer before joining the SFRS.
For more on what it takes to join our retained ranks visit /work-with-us/retained-firefighters.aspx
To view current opportunities, visit https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/emergency-services/scottish-fire-and-rescue-service/jobs