Hermitage Pupil Learns What It Takes To Become Defence Fire Fighter

An Hermitage Academy pupil has been learning what it takes to be a fire fighter during work experience with the Defence Fire Service at HM Naval Base Clyde. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Wilkes from Rosneath started her work experience on January 14 after Mum, Helen, arranged the placement for her.

During her week long stint at Faslane Lauren practiced working with breathing apparatus, performed ladder drills, first aid, and was tutored on how the Fire Fighters deal with road traffic collisions.

Lauren decided she wanted to spend her work experience with the Fire Service after seeing a TV programme on how they respond to incidents.

“I saw it and thought I would like a go,” said Lauren.

“It appealed to me because it was a hands-on job and you are helping people.

“My Mum is a MOD civil servant working at Glen Douglas and my Dad is an ex-submariner so I knew that the base had a fire station.

"I asked Mum if she could contact the Defence Fire Service to arrange some work experience.

“My time here has been really good and the best bit has been practicing rope rescue. I got to abseil from the Naval Base’s multi-storey car park.

“Working here has been everything I expected and more,” she continued.

“It is definitely a job I would like to pursue.”

HM Naval Base Clyde’s 28-strong force of Defence Fire Fighters are split into four watches and are available 24-hours a day to respond to incidents at the military site. Some of the personnel are also retained Fire Fighters in Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Garelochhead.

Fire Station Chief, Jim Gray, said:

“The main difference between the Defence Fire Service here at Clyde and our counterparts outside is that we specialise in marine fire fighting.

“Obviously we need to know how to deal with fires on board ships and submarines and after our basic course we go on to further training focussing on this aspect.”

The Defence Fire Service runs a 14-week basic course at the Defence Fire Training Development Centre in Kent, followed by a demanding development programme at various stations which can take many years to complete.

There is also an annual maintenance of skills course run by training provider Flagship where the Fire Fighters train at the company’s ship simulator at Linwood in Glasgow.

“We have hosted work experience candidates in the past,” continued Jim.

“Last October we had two Fire Fighting Cadets from Dumbarton and a further one next month.

“We currently run a third-year programme with Hermitage Academy offering them work experience places too.

“I sometimes get asked by those interested in a career with the Fire Service what the most important thing they can do to prepare.

"The key is to get fit. I would also advise them to visit their local fire station if they can. They will be able to give more information and if you ask nice you might even get a tour.”

Lauren certainly didn’t have any problems with physical fitness. The current goalkeeper with Glasgow Rangers’ pro-youth under 17s team, she has been regularly training with the club since turning 13.

“Lauren has definitely got what it takes to be a Fire Fighter,” said Jim.

“We wish her all the best for the future and who knows, maybe one day she’ll be working at the station here.”

The main difference between the Defence Fire Service here at Clyde and our counterparts outside is that we specialise in marine fire fighting.

Fire Station Chief, Jim Gray,