Retained Unit.


? to 1988 Wooden Shed.
2000 First left off Glebe Terrace                                              Photo
2008 Temporary station Glebe Terrace                                  Photo
6/12/2008 New station first left off Glebe Terrace                         Photo



1988 Sub Officer J. S. Rapson
2000 Sub Officer Steven Gordon (still there August 2014)


1990 E159LAS Ford Transit/Fulton and Wylie CFA
2001 D669FST Bedford CF350/Fulton & Wylie LFA
2002 SY02TTO LDV Convoy/HIFB LFA
2008 (May) SY54CMF MAN 12-225/Emergency One WrL



1941 to 1948 National Fire Service
1948 to 1975 Northern Area Fire Brigade
1975 to 1983 Northern Fire Brigade
1983 to 2005 Highland and Islands Fire Brigade
2005 to Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service



The Northern Fire Area Administration Scheme Order, 1948

  Equipment Volunteer
  Standpipe and Hose 1 Leading Fireman
    5 Firemen


Establishment 2000




Light Fire Appliance

1 Sub Officer



2 Leading Firefighters



7 Firefighters


Was station C16.
1996    issued with pagers.
1998    Issued with cutting gear.
2000/2001 unit upgraded. Upgrades to units involves equipping them with Breathing Apparatus, Firefighting Uniforms, Road Traffic Accident Rescue Equipment, Pagers and Fire Engines appropriate to the needs of the local area.
2001/2002 Upgraded to BA Status.

With the new brigade structure introduced in the summer of 2003 the 3 Divisions were re-organised into 2 Commands North and South, Helmsdale was put into North Command. Call signs remained the same.

On 1st April 2005 along with 61 other units Helmsdale was upgraded to a Retained Unit, drilling one night per week and receiving a retaining fee.

2008 Garage off Glebe Terrace demolished and new station built on same site. Appliance kept in large shed across the road.

Helmsdale had a call sign of C54 in The Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service, this was changed to S24, the new National Call Sign, when the Control at Inverness closed on 6/12/2016 and moved to Dundee.


Firefighters get much needed new appliance


<PHOTO> Steven Gordon delighted at the arrival of the new fire appliance for Helmsdale. (SY02TTO)
by Sue Restan
Firefighters in Helmsdale have just taken delivery of a new fire appliance, which will enable them to transport breathing apparatus to fires in the area.
Leading Firefighter Lindsay Gordon explained that their old appliance — a Ford Transit — was not big enough to carry the crew and all their firefighting equipment.
They were issued with breathing apparatus and all but one of the 10 man crew have completed the necessary training, but the appliance was too small to carry the apparatus on call outs.
It was also 13 years old and reaching the end of its useful life, but Mr Gordon pointed out that it had been a vast improvement on the situation before they were supplied with the Ford Transit in 1988.
He said: “There was no appliance. The equipment was held in a shed and firefighters used their own cars to take it to fires.”
The Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade issued the auxiliary firefighters at Helmsdale with pagers in 1996, and they were provided with cutting equipment in 1998.
“Before we had pagers, we had to rely on phone calls or a siren,” said Mr Gordon.
He explained that the new appliance was an LDV, which carried all the equipment, including the cutting gear and breathing apparatus, water and a crew of six.
Councillor Rita Finlayson, who represents Helmsdale on the Highland Council, said she was delighted that the village has been given a new appliance.
“The old one was nowhere near good enough. The men have done really well with what they had, but this will improve the service they are able to provide.
“We now want a bigger fire station in Helmsdale. There are no toilets in the existing one,” said Mrs Finlayson, who is on the Highlands and Islands Fire Board.
She added that the brigade had a rolling programme of improvements and was keen to provide auxiliary firefighters with the equipment they needed.
The Helmsdale crew, which dealt with an average of 40 - 50 callouts per year, is a real family affair.
Mr Gordon’s brother, Steven, is the sub officer and another brother, David, is the crew’s other leading firefighter.
(Aberdeen Press and Journal, 11th April, 2002.)


Helmsdale crew in spotlight 

To give a taster of what life is like as a retained firefighter, we’ve shone the spotlight on one Sutherland fire fighting team.
The crewmembers at Helmsdale are a tight-knit bunch who enjoy a great sense of camaraderie and even play together on the village football team.
It’s an all male team but that’s by no means deliberate — it’s only because no females have applied to join yet!
The guys range in age from 20 to 51 and work in a range of different occupations — joiner, plumber, roofer, postman, an SSE supervisor, a gamekeeper/ghillie, and with Highland Council.
All give the same reason for becoming a retained firefighter — to serve their community.
Tommy Macaulay (51) summed it up: “You have got to do your bit for the community. It wouldn’t be good if there was a house on fire in Helmsdale and there was no fire unit.”
Marty Grant said: ”You would want somebody to be there for you.”
Watch Manager is Steven Gordon (51) who has over 32 years service and joined when the station was simply an 8ft by 6ft shed housing an Alcon water pump and two to three hoses.
He recalled: “When there was a call out, we just threw the hose into the car.”
In 1988 Helmsdale became a mobile unit with a light fire appliance—a transit van with a built in portable pump— and in 2000 the station was upgraded to breathing apparatus status.
It gained retained status in 2004 and in 2008 took a major step forward when a new fire station was built complete with a new appliance.
Steven has seen training sessions increase from two a year to one a month, then one a fortnight. Now the crew train weekly every Tuesday evening.
Steven’s brothers David (55) and Lindsay (48), both crew managers, are also part of the team as is David’s son Paul (24).
There’s also another set of brothers, David and Marty Graham.
Most recent recruit is roofer Dean Cowie (20) who joined the service in February and is undergoing a three year traineeship.
He’s already completed a number of courses at the service’s training centre in Invergordon.
“I’m learning new skills all the time,” he said.
So far he’s battled a hill fire, doused a chip pan fire and responded to a chlorine gas leak at Clynelish Distillery, Brora.
Helmsdale is called out to between 40 and 50 incidents a year and the team have to be prepared for the unexpected.
It can be an extremely challenging job. Watch manager Steven Gordon will never forget his first fatality as a result of a road accident 14 years ago.
But there are also lighter moments. David Gordon remembers the day he nearly returned home with a terrier after its disabled owner was involved in a car crash. In the end, the dog was taken away in the ambulance!
And Graham Grant will never forget the feisty elderly lady who was involved in a road accident at Loth. Despite having a broken hip, she insisted on getting herself out of the car.
Definitely a life less ordinary.
<Photo>The crew at Helmsdale, back row from left — Steven Bassindale (Station Manager), Graham Grant, CM David Gordon, WM Steven Gordon, Marty Grant and Tommy Macaulay. Front row, from left — CM Lindsay Gordon, Paul Gordon, Barry Whitehead and Dean Cowie. Crew members not in picture are Angus Flett and Donnie Murray
<Photo> Community minded Tommy Macaulay.
<Photo. Trainee: Latest recruit is Dean Cowie who has already tackled some interesting ‘shouts’.
<Photo> Brothers (front from left) Steven, David and Lindsay Gordon have 90 years’ service between them. David’s son, Paul (back), who joined the service in 2010, is keeping the family tradition going.
<Photo> Brothers Graham (left) and Marty Grant whose cousin Angus Flett is also on the team.
<Photo> Using hydraulic cutting equipment during a training session.
(The Northern Times, August 1, 2014 Page 18.)


Firefighter Angus Flett was awarded the Chief Officers Commendation on 7/9/2018, I have been un able to find out what for.



If you know of any mistakes in this or have any additional information please let me know.


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