BASICS Scotland Podcast

John Aitchison - Scottish Fire and Rescue Service - Who are they and what do they do?

May 23, 2022

John chats us through the skills, roles and responsibilities of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, what can they do on scene, how they can help with the patients, and how this all fits into the multi-agency working to bring the best care to the patient. 

Top tips 

1) Visit your local Scottish fire and rescue station and get to know and train with the crews 

2) Remember the hierarchy of safety, your safety is paramount.  Wear correct PPE and follow any briefs given/discussed 

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help at a job, the crews are trained and willing to help where they can. 



I have two children, Lewis and Eilidh, and am married to a very understanding wife Alison. I joined Grampian Fire Brigade (later to become Grampian Fire and Rescue Service and eventually Scottish Fire and Rescue service) in January 2003 and was posted to Altens Fire Station. Over the years I have also served at Central Fire Station and North Anderson Drive, all in Aberdeen city. For the past 10 years I have been an Instructor for the service and now run a small team looking after Aberdeen city stations training.

My whole-time job is extremely varied involving many disciplines including Breathing apparatus, Fire Behaviour, road traffic collision, recruitment selection and training for new recruits, Incident command, trauma care, Urban search and rescue, safe working at heights and their assessment, as well as the training and accreditation of new Instructors.  

I moved to the village of Gourdon on the north east coast in 2008 and joined the nearest retained duty Fire Station of Inverbervie. I now run this station as Watch Commander and I'm on call to respond to a variety of incidents whenever I'm not performing my whole-time role.  

For the past 11 years I have been a member of the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue team, on call 6 months of the year for international disasters deployed by the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office and accredited by the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group which is part of the United Nations. The team specialises in heavy to light urban search and rescue and has been deployed many times all over the world. I was deployed to Nepal after the 2015 earthquake. 

I have been involved in the humanitarian aid charity Operation Florian since 2007, delivering Search and Rescue training in Macedonia and Nepal, raising money for projects, and collecting unused fire service kit and sending it to countries that do not have access to fire and rescue equipment.

I have keen interest in trauma care and its advancements, I love learning new techniques and working closely with paramedics, nurses, and doctors to improve my own knowledge on the subject and allow me to pass this on to my colleagues in SFRS and my work overseas. 

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