Two new, and very promising recruits went to Fort William on Saturday to undergo tests for their suitability, and both fell at the first hurdle - the fitness test. Since both are as fit as most of the existing members, and certainly of sufficient fitness to carry out the tasks required of the average fireman in a rural station, we wondered why they, and six others who presented themselves for the tests at Fort William, had failed. Only one person passed the fitness test, and he faced several more tests.
This is patently ridiculous. Kilchoan, population just over 100 - and it has to be Kilchoan or locations close to it since firemen have to be able to respond within fifteen minutes to a callout - is highly unlikely to have eleven people who can reach the new fitness standard and are prepared to give the many hours to fulfill modern training requirements.
If the fire service insists on these standards in places like West Ardnamurchan then many, if not all rural stations will close. If Kilchoan's were to close - which is a frightening thought - then the next nearest is Acharacle, some 40 minutes away, which is already stood down on many days due to.... you've guessed it.... recruitment problems; so we would be relying on Strontian, over an hour away.
This seems terribly like a back-door way of closing rural fire stations. If it isn't, and incredibly high standards of fitness and intelligence really are needed, why don't they raise the standards even higher? What about all firemen having to be able to run a mile in under four minutes, and have an IQ of 140+? That way even Glasgow won't have any firemen.
Top picture: Kilchoan fire appliance at The Ferry Stores.
Bottom picture: Kilchoan fire station is the left hand building.