Non Mobile Volunteer Unit CLOSED


Load Lugger Trailer lay in the Observatory car park.




1988                Leading Fireman Ernie Scott




Equipped with light pump and fire fighting equipment in Load Lugger trailer.




1988 to 2/2/1999                          Dumfries and Galloway Fire Brigade




Unit opened 1988 and disbanded in 1999 under Dumfries and Galloway Fire Brigade.


The Volunteers were alerted by telephone.




  Equipment Volunteer
  1 Trailer 1 Leading Firefighter
    6 Firefighters




by Bryan Armstrong

Deep concern was expressed yesterday over a plan to disband the volunteer firefighting unit at one of the area’s most remote parishes.
The seven strong team at Eskdalemuir uses a specially equipped trailer which is hooked up to members’ own vehicles in the case of an emergency.
Its role, since having been formed 10 years ago, has been to provide a stopgap until tenders from the nearest fire stations at Lockerbie and Langholm, both 13 miles away along narrow winding roads, reached the village.
Dumfries and Galloway Firemaster Andrew Russell has warned that strict health and safety regulations meant that the brigade could have to invest £250,000 in a purpose built station, training and new equipment if the service is retained.


He also stated that in recent tests using fire tenders part time retained firefighters from Lockerbie and Langholm had responded to radio pager call outs, attended at the stations and then travelled to Eskdalemuir all in a little over 20 minutes.
The fire chief has prepared a report which will be considered by the council’s public protection committee next week.
But some Eskdalemuir Valley residents last night condemned the plan.
One said: “I’m amazed that the fire brigade can reach us so quickly in a heavy tender. I would find it difficult, even in a fast car, and certainly not in some of the severe winter weather we experience up here”.
He added: “This is a case where health and safety regulations could actually put lives at risk. Surely an exception can be made.”
Concerns about the distance fire crews had to travel to the village where echoed by community council chairman Marion Fish, who said: “It is difficult for car drivers to travel much more than 50 miles per hour on many stretches of the road.


“Our volunteer firefighters are greatly valued locally and this would be a disappointment. It is the first I’ve heard of the plan so I would like to take a closer look at the details.”
A former member of the team, Ernie Scott, who was the first to be appointed leading firefighter, feared the loss of the unit which have serious consequences for the area, which was surrounded by thick forestry.
Mr Scott who works for the British Geological Survey at Eskdalemuir Observatory, said: “There may not have been a lot of call outs but I can remember cases when we have been able to prevent flames taking hold and I’m sure in one incident we actually saved a building
“There are also a large number of remote farms and cottages, which take a considerable time to reach, even from the village.”
He added; “These kind of incidents are unpredictable, a few minutes can make a big difference”.
Community council secretary Andrew Phillip said that he and other local people had been hopeful the fire team would be given a permanent base.
“I know some sites have been identified”, he revealed.
“I think the community council will want to study the proposals before they decide what to do”.
Firemaster Russell praised the commitment of the team, which has monthly training sessions, and said that he regretted that such a proposal had proved necessary.
However, he pointed out that the unit had been called out fewer than 20 times over the past decade, mainly to chimney fires and road accidents. There were also communication problems and difficulties in raising enough team members in call outs.
“We do believe we can reach Eskdalemuir in 20 minutes in most circumstances although as it is classed as a ‘remote rural area’ there is no statutory requirement on us to do so”, he explained.
The firemaster added that if councillors give their backing to the plan, the brigade with mount a fire safety campaign in the area.
Such a decision would also require permission of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
(Annandale Herald, Thursday, July 2, 1998. Pages 1&3)


Last call for the valley brigade
Volunteers bow out in style
PHOTO NEWS by Brian Armstrong

<PHOTO> Praised Eskdalemuir  father and daughter volunteers, Angus Hoggart and Mrs Pamela McLean, being saluted by Acting Firemaster Bitcon and two firefighters.
It was hats off for a job well done!
That was the tribute from Dumfries and Galloway Fire Brigade members on Tuesday night when the tiny volunteer unit at remote Eskdalemuir was formally stood down.
The closure decision was taken after new health and safety regulations meant that the special trailer used and limited training available meant such a unit was no longer a viable proposition.
The team was created around a decade ago to act as a stopgap until fire teams from Langholm, Lockerbie and other towns could reach the valley.
However the unit’s services were only required on average around once a year and road improvements have helped make response times faster.
Each of the volunteers are to receive special commemorative certificates in recognition of their services.
And on Tuesday night at Langholm Fire Station two representatives, Angus Hoggart and his daughter Pamela McLean were presented with their certificates by a member of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s public protection committee councillor Tom Holmes.
Mrs Sandra Hoggart received a certificate on behalf of her son-in-law Alan, the third member of the family in the team.
Unfortunately, thick fog and Eskdale hills and other factors meant that the remaining past and present members of the team were unable to attend. They will receive their certificates later.
The work of the volunteers was praised by Acting Regional Firemaster Mike Bitcon and the committee chairman, councillor Ken Cameron, who expressed their regret that the unit was being disbanded.
<PHOTO> The new uniform.
Setting the pace in the fashion brigade
That’s former firefighter and veteran councillor Ken Cameron of Locharbriggs and his Dumfries and Galloway Council colleagues Bill Miller, left, of Moffat and Tom Holms, right, from Dumfries.
They were inspecting the latest state of the art uniforms which will soon be issued to all the regions full-time and part-time firefighters.
The multi-layered outfits, which were on display at Langholm Fire Station on Tuesday night, are described as light and comfortable while featuring the most advanced designs and materials to ensure maximum protection.
Despite being purchased through the statutory competitive tendering processes, which cannot favour local firms, two market leading parts of the kit are, in fact, manufactured in the region.
The French style helmet is made by Stranraer company Helmet Integrated Systems and the boots are produced at the Gates Rubber Company in Dumfries.
Each of the region’s firefighters will be issued with two of the new uniforms by the spring.
The same style of uniform is being introduced by other Brigades around the country and is featured in the popular ITV drama London’s Burning.
(Annandale Herald, Thursday, February 4, 1999. Page 3)





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