Over and out for long-serving Buckie commander
MORE than three decades of service drew to a close on Sunday when Buckie fire station's commander retired.
Firefighters past and present from Buckie and surrounding stations gathered to honour watch manager Dougie Annand, who has led the town's team of retained firefighters for the last two decades, having been in the service for a total of 32-and-a-half years.
To commemorate his commitment to fighting fires and saving lives Mr Annand, who works as an electrician, received gifts from colleagues and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
However, as he was to reveal to assembled guests, he nearly did not become a firefighter at all, the persistence of one of his predecessors paying off in the end.
He said: "Dodie McKay had been at me for three years back when I was working for Cruickshank's to join up but I kept putting it off. One night he came up to the house with the forms – I looked at my wife then said, 'OK, I'll do it'. To be honest I wish I'd joined up years earlier."
A sense of community has very much been behind Mr Annand's dedication to is role.
"I suppose my greatest satisfaction over the years has been helping the community," he continued.
"It's about being there for people when they are in need, sometimes the greatest of need. When that pager goes, we go to work.
"I've also had the privilege of working with a great team here down the years, it's been like having a second family."
With over three decades to reflect on, Mr Annand has seen many changes in the service, remaining a proud advocate of local people signing up to become retained firefighters.
He said: "The biggest changes have been to the equipment we use and the appliances themselves.
"We get far, far more protection from from the clothing we wear now than when I started, back then we basically had a pair of wellies and yellow waterproof leggings. Sometimes you'd find the leggings had melted to the top of your boots with the heat.
"Becoming a retained firefighter is something I'd definitely recommend. Once you get through the initial training and courses it's all about working as a team and enjoying each other's company."
Mr Annand said he was now going to enjoy spending time with his grandchildren.
Paying tribute to Mr Annand was the station's new watch manager Colin Forbes, who has been with the fire service for 13 years.
"It's going to be hard to fill Dougie's boots but he's left the station in a great shape," he commented.
"I'm really looking forward to the challenges ahead.
"Recruitment is one of the immediate things we're facing as we've got some people either leaving or who have left and need to be replaced."
Anyone interested in becoming a retained firefighter can pop along for an informal chat at Buckie fire station during one of their Monday evening training sessions, which begin at 7pm. More information on the role can be found at www.firescotland.gov.uk