Hawick firefighters honoured for long service

Hawick fire station manager Russell Bell.
Hawick fire station manager Russell Bell.

Two Hawick firefighters have been thanked for spending 40 years between them helping keep people safe.

Station manager Russell Bell and firefighter Keith Elliot were presented with long-service good-conduct medals at a ceremony at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s east area headquarters in Newbridge, Midlothian.

They were among 22 staff, with combined service of over 440 years, presented with awards by Alasdair Hay, the service’s chief officer, in acknowledgement of their commitment to their roles.

Station manager Mr Bell, 46, has been based at the Hawick station, in Howdenbank, for the last three years after previously spending 18 years in Dumfries.

The 27 firefighters at the station have responsibility for covering not just Hawick but also Selkirk, Jedburgh and Newcastleton.

Mr Bell said: “It’s a great place to work, and probably the best part of the work is the interaction with the staff on a daily basis and the teamwork that is involved.

“There’s also a great variety in the work. You have a core pattern for the day, but you don’t know what challenge lies ahead on any given day.”

Mr Bell said one of the most challenging changes to his work in recent months has been the Hawick station’s involvement in a joint pilot scheme between the fire and rescue service and the Scottish Ambulance Service.

This has seen firefighters sent to help casualties stay alive until paramedics reach them.

Mr Bell said: “It makes good use of our first aid training and the defibrillators we carry on the fire engines. It’s a really challenging and good scheme which we have been trialling since October last year.

“We’re usually called out two or three times a month to support people who have suffered a cardiac arrest. To save a life in this way is as rewarding as rescuing someone from a fire.”

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Mr Hay said: “I meet many different people in my role, and there is no doubt whatsoever that firefighters are among the most respected individuals, standing on the front line to protect our country and our communities.”

Mr Elliot was unavailable for comment.