Mobile Volunteer Unit
1978 Barn at Hamish MacEachen’s farm
1995 Wooden Hut behind large green barn to left of landing jetty Photo
1978 Volunteer Leader Ned Rimmer
2013 Volunteer Leader Karen Keys (there 2014)
2017 May SN61EJY Mitsubishi L200 4x4 (ex Colintraive and Alloa)
|1978 to 2005||Strathclyde Fire Brigade|
|2005 to 2013||Strathclyde Fire & Rescue (Name change only.)|
|1/4/2013 to||Scottish Fire and Rescue Service|
Became operational about July 1978.
Due to a lack of crew at Colintraive SN61EJY was moved to Kererra in May 2017.
Team spirit is island Unit’s key to success
The phrase “do it yourself” means
more than just putting up a few shelves to the crew of Kerrera’s Volunteer Fire
Kerrera is an island about one mile west of Oban and despite its closeness to the mainland it has what some guide books might call “glorious isolation.”
The island has nothing that could really be called a road and the only vehicles that run on its few rough tracks are Land Rovers and tractors.
Everything has to be ferried over the Sound of Kerrera and that includes the Unit’s fire fighting equipment which now resides in a barn at Hamish MacEachen’s farm.
Both Hamish and his wife, Mairi, are members of the Unit and it does have a certain unique quality because they are not the only husband and wife team in the Unit’s seven person crew.
The other couple are Ken and Lynda Oxland and Lynda, co-incidentally, is the island’s primary school teacher.
However, it was not a desire for sex equality that encouraged Lynda and Mairi to join the Unit.
Station Officer Ken Munro, who as District Fire officer for North Argyll has Kerrera under his control, explained that the women’s inclusion in the Unit reflects the very strong community spirit on the island.
The female fire fighters make an important contribution in that they are always on the island and this means that, if the men happen to be on the mainland on business, there is someone there who knows something about fire fighting.
Station Officer Munro said: “I have every confidence in the women’s ability to fight a fire.”
The Unit has the basic fire fighting equipment of water pump, hoses, branches, axes, torches and helmets. The water pump is, of course, portable and can be transported anywhere on the island by tractor, Land Rover or boat if necessary.
Said Mr Munro: “When you have a Unit where there is no direct contact with a fire station, portable equipment is necessary and the less sophisticated it is the better.”
Ken Oxland, who is an accountant in Oban, is very aware of the dangers of fire on the island and believes that since the first visit of SO Munro about two years ago the people have become more aware of the hazards.
The Unit, with Joe Davis and Alan Grey completing the team, has been operational for about six months and the idea for it was initiated by Kerrera Community Council.
SO Munro recalled that he was invited to speak at a meeting of the island’s population, about 42, to discuss the formation of a Volunteer Fire Unit.
He said: "It was really wild the night I went over to the island, but despite the bad weather there was a 100 per cent turnout of the Kerrera people.”
This really reflects the attitude of the islanders and their willingness to help themselves.
Hamish MacEachen, who has lived on the island for 43 years, said: "This is very much a self-help situation and we are all dependent on one another at some time.
“It’s a very different way of life over here and you have to accept that it has its advantages and disadvantages.”
Ned Rimmer, the ferryman and leader of the Unit, agreed with Hamish and said that everyone looks after each other.
Everyone has some sort of fire fighting appliance in their home and all the houses on the island are connected by telephone so that Ned and his team can be alerted in the event of a fire.
The Unit, if called to a fire, has to make the best use possible of the island’s natural water supplies like burns, duck ponds and the sea because there are no fire hydrants.
The only thing more impressive than the scenic beauty of Kerrera is the impressive “do it yourself" attitude of the Volunteer Fire Unit.
(Strathclyde Fireman No. 4. January, 1979. Page 2.)
Better fire safety on Kerrera
<PHOTO> Pictured handing out fire fighting equipment are, left Assistant Firemaster Bob Docherty, with Kevin Bishop and Paul Holland, back, of Kidde Safety Europe Limited, to, sitting, David Keys, Pat Delap, Sue Rimmer, Roderick MacEachan, Ann MacEachan, all Kerrera, with Councillor Bruce Robertson from the joint fire board and volunteer firefighters John Fitzgerald and Duncan MacEachan. (OT/A2/46/17A)
Every household on Kerrera has received a fire extinguisher, fire
blanket and smoke alarm thanks to Strathclyde Fire Brigade and manufacturers Kidde Safety.
The volunteer unit on the island had lapsed and a questionnaire sent out by Kerreera Community Council revealed that worried most householders was fire safety.
Now the volunteer unit has been resurrected and six out of the 10 members required have been recruited and are undergoing training with more in the pipeline.
At a special presentation last week, to raise fire safety awareness, each of the 19 households on the islands received free fire fighting equipment worth £950 in total.
Assistant firemaster Bob Docherty said, at a presentation in the islands former primary school: One of the things we do in the community fire safety department is to try and get the message across to all members of the community that the vast majority of deaths and injuries in fires are in the home, not the places of work or hotels.
We kill about 600 people a year in fires and the vast majority are in the home and that is where our resources are starting to concentrate now.
He said the number of deaths a year in house fires was equivalent to six Concordes crashing but because the fire deaths happened in small numbers they did not have the same impact.
Paul Holland, European marketing manager for Kidde Safety, said that this was his companys way of feeding the hand that feeds us and they were pleased to be able to put something back into the community.
He said all the equipment was approved and the smoke alarm included a 10 year battery. Pat Delap, off Kerrera Community Council, said the fire safety had been the major concern of islanders according to a questionnaire put out in 1998 asking residents what their main worries were.
They made inquiries to Strathclyde Fire Brigade and as well as starting up the volunteer unit again, it was felt Kererra was a good example of how the brigade wanted to help and get across the fire safety awareness message in rural communities in its area.
In the event of a fire on the island, the volunteers would initially tackle it, with back up from Oban with equipment and firefighters brought over by boat.
(The Oban Times Thursday, 23 November 2000. Page 2)
If you know of any mistakes in this or have any additional information please let me know.
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