Tag Archives: firemen

Letters to the Editor

Fire and Rescue

Dear An Tirisdeach,

I think we would all agree that the Tiree Fire & Rescue Station does not have the full range of facilities that we would expect of a modern facility.

There was intent at one stage to work in partnership with the airport to try and develop a Volunteer Station to meet current standards but unfortunately agreement could not be reached at that time.

I am aware there is a meeting to be held in June between the Area Fire Commander and his Head of Property Services to see what can be done to effect improvements on Tiree, either by building an extension or providing robust portable accommodation to provide additional facilities such as a lecture room, toilets, showers and more dignity than is presently offered.

The vast majority of fire cover in Argyll & Bute is provided by Retained and Volunteer staff and the Service takes it`s responsibilities to such staff very seriously. This can be confirmed by observing the general standard of accommodation throughout Argyll & Bute. Unfortunately, the accommodation in Tiree is not yet up to this standard but we will see what can be done to improve things.

Slainte Donald

Councillor Donald Macdonald Ward 5 – Oban North & Lorn Argyll & Bute Council


Dear An Tirisdeach, Regarding your observations about mainlanders cycling habits and their lack of road sense, a few pointers.

Firstly, while there are some worrying spectacles amongst the cycling visitors it would also be fair to say that there are some pretty wearisome car drivers on the road too, and not all of them from the mainland.

I should know I am one of them – more often looking to the geese instead of where I’m going.

Poor cycling and poor car driving combined are not very relaxing to look at. However, one should bear in mind that cyclists have every bit as much right to be on the road as car drivers and the bicycle was there before the car.

As far as hold ups and appointment’s are concerned, it’s summer, the tourists are here so you simply have to set off earlier. Nothing new there and let us bear in mind it isn’t just cyclists you can get stuck behind – slow moving vehicles and livestock provide the same joys. Anyone who has ever been to Holland will have observed the extensive cycle ways built there – cyclists and cars never mingle. This could be achieved in Scotland too, however, it should be noted that the Dutch spend much less of their tax revenue on foreign military adventures so might be able to afford such plans all the easier.

Regards, Peter Isaacson

Dear An Tirisdeach,

At last I feel I am no longer alone in my frustration at driving around Tiree during the summer months. I have come to the conclusion that many of the cyclists (though not all Dr. Todd’s family of four children are exemplary in their road safety) get off the ferry and leave their sensible heads on it.

Tiree can be a difficult place to drive when one is unfamiliar with ‘the pockets’ system. It becomes unbearable when watching a small child wobble all over the place while parents seem to have lost all sense of potential danger. I cycle myself, and on a good day prefer bike to car but at no point do I forget that four wheeled vehicles can appear out of nowhere. Complete safety is an illusion, for that reason I think cycling, road safety leaflets should be in all lodgings pertaining to tourism.

Name & address withheld

Dear Reporter

I think it’s an excellent idea to make leaflets about safe bike riding on Tiree to all road users who might benefit from them, but what should this advice consist of?

A bike is a noble form of transport, healthy and planet saving and might be accorded the same kind of relative esteem that sail and motor powered water transport enjoy: that is, on the water, steam gives way to sail. Thus nature takes precedence over the piston engine: so a car should give way to lung legs and personal effort. We motorists do not hold an unassailable right to the public highway. On Tiree, residents and visitors alike might be expected to extend a little generosity to those not used to riding a bike on such narrow roads.

The safety of small children is of course paramount. Is it is not beyond all of us to add a little extra time to our journeys in the summer to allow for visitors on bikes, as would be necessary in any busy holiday location? My suggestions, given that to my mind it is much safer for cyclists to continue pedalling at the prospect of an approaching car than to wobble or crash to a panicky stop, are therefore:

  • For oncoming cyclists:The motorist waits in a pocket to allow oncoming cyclists safely past
  • For cyclists ahead:The motorist drives slowly a safe distance behind cyclists who are ahead, waiting for a pocket on either side of the road that is wide enough to allow overtaking without causing alarm or danger.

There are probably other considerations. But surely there is nothing but good to be gained by all of us from some agreed, public “Rules of the Road”? And we need to be proactive. I cannot bear to contemplate how utterly appalled we would all be by the injury or death of a child (or anyone) cycling on the roads of Tiree, whoever might be behind the wheel. And a patient courteous and gracious accommodation of our cycling visitors would surely do nothing but enhance Tiree’s reputation as a wonderful place for a holiday

Sally Frank

Tiree’s Voluntary Firefighters – Our Quiet Heroes


Our proud firefighters

Recently a close friend’s chimney caught fire, and, unable to deal with it herself, she called 999. Within minutes a fire fighter was at her home, closely followed by more members of the team. Quickly assessing the situation, they pumped water up the chimney extinguishing the flames. They followed this procedure with a check on the upstairs walls for heat. Satisfied that all was well our Voluntary Firefighters left the scene. My friend was very relieved that all had gone well and that her children were safe. She was also impressed by the skillful and professional way the volunteers dealt with the situation.

“They were very professional. I felt safe and knew that the situation was in good hands”she said.

Crucial Role

This incident prompted this article. Not just to sing the praises of those committed and dedicated people who work on our behalf, but also to take the opportunity to remind us all of the crucial role they have within our community.

An Tirisdeach spoke to Stuart MacLean, Group Commander of Argyll & Bute Firefighters.

“The trainees deserve to get the best and right training. This means, the service we provide is the best we can achieve for the members of the local communities that we serve” he said.

This excellent training was very much in evidence the evening of my friend’s chimney fire.

Skillful and Professional.

At present, our volunteers are made up of seven men and two women. Three new male recruits are currently undergoing training. New recruits have to attend two weekend training courses in Oban to learn skills in hose running, pump and ladder work. Another two weekends are required for Breathing Apparatus training. Also, a trainer comes from the mainland six times a year, training is also supplemented by superior officers several times a year. On top of all that, ‘drill night’ is every Wednesday. All volunteers who commit themselves to the Unit know they must be able to drop everything at a moment’s notice. Margaret Worsley, who is currently the longest serving volunteer (14years) and second in command said

“ I could never have done this job without the wonderful support of my family and friends.”

Family Fire Plan

An Tirisdeach asked Crew Commander Macintosh’s advice about staying safe at home.

Smoke alarms were very important and should be at top and bottom of stairs and in every child’s bedroom. Overloading socket’s is asking for trouble, as is smoking in bed. Candles, very much in vogue for some years now, are in fact one of the most common reasons for domestic fires. They should never be placed on plastic or other flammable surfaces, for example T.V.s and stereos. In the event of a fire, it is recommended that you have a family fire plan already in place, which includes a rendezvous point outside. This helps the firefighters, as their lives have been put at risk in the past looking for people in a house when they have already left the building.

Dealing with danger

Firefighters not only respond to domestic fires, but assist the ambulance service and medical team as part of the Emergency Services when the situation requires their presence, this includes road accidents. Work may involve carrying casualties from inaccessible locations to the ambulance. Obviously, physical fitness is a prerequisite for the job, but psychological robustness must also be necessary, as sometimes people are seriously injured, and on occasion there are fatalities.

One volunteer described the team spirit as “fantastic”, another said “it’s like another family.” Part of the reason for this is these people have to deal with danger, the unexpected, frightened and sometimes traumatised people. Supporting one another must be part of the firefighting experience.

Crew Commander Macintosh recalled one of the worst fire’s he attended was at Milton harbour in 2004 when five boats and the pier were on fire. Four boats were completely lost. This incident lasted twelve intense hours and involved Fire Investigators coming out to investigate the cause. Thankfully, there was no fatalities.

Dedication and Commitment

In the course of writing this article An Tirisdeach has been deeply impressed by the dedication and commitment of the Tiree firefighting volunteers. Therefore, it seems inappropriate that the basic facilities they require to make their training lives easier (e.g. Toilets & showers) have not been forthcoming in any budgetary allowance for Tiree.

An Tirisdeach has been in touch with Councillor Donald MacDonald who is our Argylle & Bute representative who sits on the joint Strathclyde/Argyll & Bute Board to ask if he is putting forward Tiree’s case for, what one might call, basic facilities. By next issue one is hoping he will inform us of any progress made on their behalf.

Basic Facilities

Volunteer fire fighters generally join the service out of a desire to serve their community. Anyone reading this who thinks they could be a committed member of our firefighting team should contact Crew Commander Macintosh on 01879-220-829. The same number applies if you need to have a fire safety check. An Tirisdeach would also like to interview members of Tiree’s Voluntary Ambulance service for a future issue. Like our firefighters, they are an indispensable emergency service.