Firefighters are awarded medals

Alec Currie, Billy Lyons and Isobel Torbet (front) with their fellow firefighters from Whithorn
Alec Currie, Billy Lyons and Isobel Torbet (front) with their fellow firefighters from Whithorn

The dedication of three Whithorn firefighters has been recognised with the award of the Queen’s Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Firefighters Alec Currie, Billy Lyons and Isobel Torbet received the award after reaching the milestone of 20 years protecting communities as officers on the retained duty system at Whithorn fire station.

The trio were presented with their medals by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) senior officer for Dumfries and Galloway, area manager Neville Wright, at an evening ceremony held in the station recently.

Neville said: “The award of the Long Service Good Conduct Medal is always an incredible achievement but it is perhaps even more so for firefighters who serve on the retained duty system.

“For more than two decades Alec, Billy and Isobel have provided their community with vital professional fire and rescue cover while meeting the demands of their other careers.

“They have given up huge amounts of their free time in committing not only to respond to all sorts of emergencies, but also to undertake the training needed to gain and constantly develop the specialist skills required of modern firefighters.

“It’s unquestionably a deep commitment and clearly the support of their family members has been crucial to them meeting the demands of their role.

“This was rightly a very proud moment for the families as well as the firefighters and I’m delighted they were there to see the medals presented to their loved ones.

“I know I speak for the whole of Dumfries and Galloway when I say a very sincere thank you to Alec, Billy and Isobel for their dedication and professionalism over the past 20 years.”

The Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal honours firefighters “who have rendered long and meritorious service as members of the fire brigades of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Mann and the Channel Islands”.

Station manager James Manning, commanding Whithorn and other fire stations in Wigtownshire, said: “It is a privilege to work alongside three individuals who are so dedicated to their communities.

“There can be no doubt that the skills and experience held by Isobel, Billy and Alec make them a tremendous asset to the people of Dumfries and Galloway and they thoroughly deserve this award.”

The three firefighters have notably different careers but are part of a tightly-knit crew.

Alec is a church minister, Billy a joiner and carpenter, while Isobel’s primary employment is also with SFRS as a commercial training officer.

Isobel Torbet said: “Being in the RDS has given me so many opportunities – I’d be lost without it.

“When you go to fires or road traffic collisions you know it can be harrowing and you do get very sad incidents, but it makes you such a strong person and it has improved my skills in lots of ways.

“We all loved having our families there when we got the medals as they’ve done so much for us. Whenever the pager goes at night, my husband gets up and opens doors so I can get going faster.”

Billy added: “I’ve always enjoyed being in the retained and even though there’s a lot of experience in the station you still get that sense of excitement when the alarm goes.

“We’ve obviously been to bad incidents but I’d definitely recommend it to anyone thinking about taking it up. The people you work with aren’t just colleagues – they really are close pals.

“My dad was in the retained for decades so I saw how much he enjoyed going out to training and that was one of the reasons I always wanted to do it.”

RDS firefighters receive a retainer fee in return for their commitment, as well as additional payments for every incident and training night they attend.

Anyone who would like more information on how to become a retained firefighter should visit the myjobscotland website and search for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.