Fochabers fire station hail long-serving fantastic four!
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FOUR Fochabers firefighters with nearly 150 years of service between them have been honoured.
A special ceremony at the fire station last Friday it was time to applaud Stuart Jenkins (47 years' service), Bob Gerrard (39 years) – both of whom are now retired – Kenny Horne (40 years) and Stuart Gerrard (20 years) for their long-term commitment to helping keep the community safe.
On hand to congratulate them on their achievements were Station Commander Andrew Hislop and Group Commander Bruce Milne.
On behalf of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service they presented plaques and certificate to both Mr Jenkins and Bob Gerrard, a certificate to Mr Horne and a medal to Stuart Gerrard.
From the crew, the retirees were presented with bronze statuettes, Mr Jenkins' one depicting a firefighter using cutting gear while Mr Gerrard's was in the form of a firefighter using a hose.
The contribution made by the quartet was hailed by Fochabers fire station crew commander Gary Smith, who himself has 43 years of service under his belt.
"We're very proud of to have this level of service and commitment at the fire station," he said.
"There aren't many of us older ones left now.
"We've been one big family here and it's really helped us through. At one stage we had a combined service of 240 years.
"As a community Fochabers is quite close which has helped as well.
"In a way we've been lucky none of the guys have moved away from the area but the same work isn't available in and around Fochabers as there used to be.
"A lot of folk work away from the area. You have to be within eight minutes travel to the station if you're on call and over the last few years we've found that filling the daytime slots have been the most difficult. Evening and night time isn't so bad as people are back home from their work.
"It takes three years to fully train a firefighter so we're keen to get new people signed up to replace us when we retire."
CC Smith's son Joss is currently in his second year of training and the station has welcomed new recruits Jane Hay and David Graham to the fold.
Praising the quartet for their commitment and dedication, Group Commander Milne said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service would like to thank Bob, Stuart, Kenneth and Stuart for their outstanding contribution to the safety of their community, which collectively amounts to 146 years of service.”
While the long-serving firefighters were predominantly based around Fochabers while being called to assist across the north-east when required, one memorable incident saw their skills required much further afield.
CC Smith continued: "A group of five of us got called to go up to Lerwick to help fight a fire in a Russian Klondyker fish factory ship.
"A hold full of cardboard boxes had caught fire – we reckoned one of the crew had been smoking down there.
"We were up on the Saturday and back home on the Sunday – that was quite a weekend."
One of the firefighters to make the trip to Shetland was Mr Jenkins, who had the distinction of serving under no fewer than three fire brigades while based at the same station –Grampian Fore Brigade, Grampian Fire and Rescue Service and, latterly, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Anyone interested in joining the team at Fochabers should visit https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/work-with-us/retained-firefighters.aspx