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A firefighter who overcame dyslexia and partial deafness to train Scotland's next generation of fire crews has urged others to pursue their dreams

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Watch Commander Martine Barr has worked as a firefighter for the past 18 years. After more than a decade serving on Scotland's frontline, Martine made the switch to train trainee firefighters at the SFRS National Training Centre in Cambuslang.

Martine Barr

After dreaming of becoming a firefighter from a young age, getting into the legacy Strathclyde Fire Service third time lucky was a dream come true.dreaming of becoming a firefighter from a young age, getting into the legacy Strathclyde Fire Service third time lucky was a dream come true.

The 41-year-old missed large chunks of her education due to being partially deaf in both ears - something which was not picked up immediately and was mistaken for unruly behaviour.

After graduating from the infamously tough, but highly revered Gullane Fire College in East Lothian, which is now closed, Martine threw herself into firefighter life.

However, while going for a Watch Commander post, in which she was successful, Martine realised she required additional support with interpreting information and was found to have dyslexia.

Despite the obstacles, Martine is a highly respected firefighter and trainer and is now urging others to consider a career with the SFRS.

She said: "I wanted to be a firefighter for as long as I could remember.

"I didn't have any family in the Service, but I was always fascinated by fire engines and used to love watching London's Burning. I'd see a female firefighter and think: 'I want to be like her'.

"In sixth year at high school, I managed to get some work experience at Motherwell Fire Station and decided I need to do this.

"When I got in third time lucky I can remember being excited, but terrified. When I arrived at Gullane it didn't feel real.

"I don't think my passion for the job will ever leave. It's the best job in the world."

While she took to firefighter life quickly, her journey wasn't always smooth.

Martine recalled: "Teachers thought I was disruptive at school and I would be sent out of the class at times.

"They didn't find out I was partially deaf in both ears till primary seven... I couldn't hear, and I missed seven years of school."

Martine is now determined to use her experience to help others become firefighters.

She is keen for anyone to join the SFRS who has the drive and passion to make a difference.

Once you have joined, we will commit to supporting you in working towards reaching your career goals and ambitions whatever they may be. So, like Martine, you may work towards a managerial role if this is something you aspire to.

Martine said: "If you want to become a firefighter, then we will help you, but you have to have the drive. If you have the drive, the door is open to everyone.

"I would love to see more females join the organisation, but we need to make sure we get the right people.

"We want people who genuinely want to make a difference."

The SFRS is currently recruiting for a number of roles - both operational and non-operational.

Visit here for all current opportunities https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/emergency-services/scottish-fire-and-rescue-service/jobs

 

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