Female firefighters recruitment drive heats up

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Firemen is an outdated term, long-replaced by firefighters to reflect diversity within the brigade – but still the majority of crew members are white men.

Now, a major recruitment drive is under way to attract more women and ethic minorities to the service.

Girls from the Auxiliary Fire Service practise their screams for the Tattoo while others from Queen Alexandra nursing corps look on. Picture: TSPL

Girls from the Auxiliary Fire Service practise their screams for the Tattoo while others from Queen Alexandra nursing corps look on. Picture: TSPL

Back in 1963, there was no shortage of women in the Auxiliary Fire Service.

Pictured in August of that year, in the middle of Festival season, were some of them, joined by members of the Queen Alexander Royal Army nursing corps, practising their screams for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Janet Wyllie, Dorothy Clark, Mary Scott, Margaret Black, Maureen Boland and Pat Cross were making themselves heard.

While more women are wanted in the service itself, there has been no shortage of support down the years from the wives of firefighters. Back on January 7, 1978, they and their children took to Princes Street during the Fire Brigades Union strike in protest over wages.

Their march took place just a week before a three-month long stand-off came to an end when fire crews across the country accepted an offer of a ten per cent pay rise and reduced working hours.

As you’ll have read elsewhere in your Evening News today, we sent our reporter Kaye Nicholson to the Scottish Fire Service College in Gullane this week. She was put through her paces in a slightly different fashion to new recruits in the East Lothian town back in May 1954.

But while most training centres on blazing infernos or rescues, there is always a cat in need of help. Simon was the lucky moggy plucked from a tree by a crew from McDonald Road in October 1973.