A LOCAL firefighter is looking forward to his next challenge after swapping farming for saving lives.

Alex Wainwright joined Clydebank Fire Station’s Blue Watch at the start of the month after undergoing a 12-week training programme where he learned life-saving skills in preparation for his new role.

Clydebank Post: Alex WainwrightAlex Wainwright (Image: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service)

It’s a big change for Alex, from the island of Coll, who previously worked alongside his dad Rob – a former Scottish Rugby captain - at the family’s farm.

The 24-year-old is following in his dad’s footsteps as Rob is an on-call firefighter on the island and Alex is now a full-time firefighter on the mainland.

Ahead of his first shift in the town, Alex returned home briefly to help his dad with lambing season.

Clydebank Post: Alex and his dad Rob at the family farm on the island of CollAlex and his dad Rob at the family farm on the island of Coll (Image: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service)

Alex said: “When I was away training for my new role, I think my dad was missing my help on the farm more than me!

“He was glad to have me back. Lambing season is always hard graft and you really need all hands on deck - but it’s also really rewarding.”

Looking after the local community is second nature to the Wainwrights.

Growing up Alex watched his dad be a volunteer firefighter for nearly 20 years helping the local coastguard and also organising his charity event Doddie Aid, all while running the farm.

Clydebank Post: Rob has been an on-call firefighter for nearly 20 yearsRob has been an on-call firefighter for nearly 20 years (Image: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service)

He joked that whilst on the island he checked his dad’s fire service kit to make sure it was up to scratch.

Clydebank Post: Alex and Rob joined an SFRS team this year and cycled over 500 miles from Cardiff to Edinburgh in support of Doddie AidAlex and Rob joined an SFRS team this year and cycled over 500 miles from Cardiff to Edinburgh in support of Doddie Aid (Image: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service)

Alex added: “The volunteer and on-call firefighters do a great job because they juggle so many different roles.

“I’ve seen this with my dad. He’s got a lot of training and this is great for the island.

“There are skills there to help people in emergencies - for example, if someone needs assistance while waiting for an Air Ambulance.

“It is good to help people. In a small community, you get stuck in. If someone’s car is in a ditch you go and pull them out and do what is needed.”

Rob explained that he was delighted to have Alex home for a couple of weeks.

The former British and Irish Lion added that he is “very proud” of his son’s achievements.

Rob said: “As well as lambing, I had drainage jobs for him. He’s also our digger driver.

"I’ve had to drive the digger and I’m an old dog learning new tricks. I am very proud of him and I’m looking forward to him bringing his newly learned skills and wisdom to the volunteers on the island and showing us how it’s done.

“He’s more qualified than I am now.”

Firefighters have a range of responsibilities including dealing with emergencies, delivering vital safety advice, undertaking preventative work, and engaging with local communities.

Alex is part of a cohort of 90 firefighters who have been welcomed into the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Recruits will be stationed across the country and Alex said he plans to stay in touch with the friends he made during his training.

He added: “There’s been a lot to learn, it’s been intense but we had a good squad and pulled together.

"We also managed to have a few good laughs. I enjoyed learning about safe working at height and how to deal with a road traffic collision.

“Although it’s easier and very different when you are working with dummies as opposed to real people.

“I have enjoyed working the machinery and learning how it works.”

Over the next three years, Alex will undergo continuous learning and development whilst stationed in Clydebank.

He explained he is looking forward to “getting out there” but admits he is slightly nervous.

Alex said: “I am looking forward to getting out there, continuing to keep training and learning.

“I’ll be nervous on my first shout, but our training prepares you and I’ll be ready.”

Area Commander Joe McKay added: “I would like to congratulate all our graduates and welcome them into the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

"It is a great achievement to reach this stage and there will be much more ahead of them as they start their careers.

"These new firefighters will help us to protect our communities across Scotland.

“I would also like to welcome Alex into my area where he will become an asset to the Blue Watch at Clydebank Fire Station and he will be fully supported in his new role.”