ONE of the highest ranking firefighters in the Highlands has paid tribute to his colleagues past, present and future as he moves into a national role.
Inveness firefighter since 1991, John MacDonald has now been promoted from local senior officer (LSO) for the Highlands to the role of business support manager and deputy assistant chief officer (DACO) for Scotland in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Speaking following his promotion he said: "I have not done this all on my own, it has been done with the support of some fantastic colleagues who have guided me and mentored me.
"It is being able to work as part of an amazing team that you can rely on day in day out and without exception.
"They will always have your back but it is also important to keep grounded and that you have amazing support from your home life – I have been able to get that from my wife and children."
He is delighted with his new position within the fire service but also that the Highlands can remain as his home.
"It is a national role but I will be based in Inverness," he said.
"I will be working wherever I am required but I will still be operational so you will see me around."
The process has already begun to find his replacement as LSO.
The new officer will focus on the delivery of the service in the Highlands so that Mr MacDonald can work nationally.
"I think it is great as it will provide an opportunity for me to take all of the experience that I’ve built up over 26 and a bit years and feed that into the national perspective of the fire service – it is a strength," he said.
He wants to highlight the fact that there are senior managers within the fire service based right way across the country – not just in central belt headquarters.
"I will be working very closely with the chief assisting him on day to day business both internally and externally within the organisation," he said.
He will also be working with the strategic leadership and management team during the coming period of transformation for the fire service and he wants members of the public to get involved and voice their opinions online.
"The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is the fourth largest in the world behind New York, Paris and Tokyo," Mr MacDonald said.
"A transformation is needed to respond to the changing risks such as terrorism, climate change, and social and demographic change."
Mr MacDonald started out his career as a firefighter in Inverness aged 19. He served as an operational firefighter and junior officer on Red Watch and Blue Watch.
He has also worked as a training instructor and held a variety of different roles regarding the prevention of fires before becoming an area commander and LSO in February 2016.
He has seen many changes since he joined the service.
"I think the whole science of firefighting is fairly similar but the technology and equipment and the processes that we would deploy today have modernised and they are very much focused on the safety of the firefighter and the communities.
"We will continue see these advances as part of the transformation."
He added: "The service is currently looking at ultra high-pressure firefighting equipment which essentially means a firefighter can fight a fire within a building without having to go into it – they can cut a hole in a wall and fight through it."
He also discussed the changes to protective equipment and the invention of a flash hood to cover ears and cheeks.
"You would go into a fire with exposed skin and there were occasions where your skin would be burnt but not nowadays."
As well as championing his career of choice he gave some heartfelt advice to firefighters in service and starting out.
"There is no shame and no stigma to being affected in any particular way to something we see – it is the nature of what we face and it is ok to not be ok but it is important to talk about it."
To lodge your opinions on changes to the service visit www.firescotland.gov.uk/transformation.aspx