There are two new faces in the senior management team at Western Isles district office of Fire Scotland, which has its HQ in Stornoway.

The fire station on Robertson Road is the new workplace for group manager Gavin Hammond and station manager Craig Lauder.

The pair moved to Lewis to replace Steve Oliver, who has moved on to become station manager at Musselburgh, and Iain Macleod, promoted to become Fire Scotland’s area manager, covering the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Group manager Gavin Hammond has moved to Stornoway from Cambridgeshire, where he was fire protection manager and operational commander with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue. He is proud to have roots in Scotland, with his parents still living in the Borders. He’s now living close to the station in Stornoway with wife Hayley, an education and administration officer, and two young children who attend Back school.

Gavin has family roots in military service, with several family members having served in the Royal Navy and Army over many generations. His previous experience includes working as a pollution prosecution officer for the National Rivers Authority, but he entered the fire service as a firefighter in 1996. He said: “When joining the fire service on the frontline everybody has to start as a firefighter, you are then able to learn your craft, do your exams, and go through promotions to progress through the ranks. This is the same for officer in the service, up to the Chief Fire Officer”

“As group manager I’ll be supporting and leading the stations and crews who get called out. I also have the wider role of building effective working relationships with partner agencies such as police, ambulance, coastguard and civic partners like the Comhairle, health board and voluntary sector organisations. We all have the responsibility to work together to enhance public safety and wellbeing across the Isles. Together we explore opportunities to improve the services we provide our communities, a responsibility I take very seriously and am proud to have."

Alongside Gavin in the senior management team is Craig Lauder, who came to Stornoway earlier this year from Falkirk, where he was a full-time operational watch manager and brigade training instructor with Fire Scotland. He’s had many years serving in the central belt and prior to joining the Fire Service was a member of ground crew with the RAF for 11 years. He’s accompanied to his new home by wife Margo, an office administrator, leaving on the mainland three grown-up children who are all employed.

Craig said: “There are 140 firefighters across the Western Isles at 14 stations and I am the station manager for them all. I’m responsible for recruitment and operational delivery with our retained firefighters, being their first port of call for support. Being an on-call fire fighter can be challenging but is also immensely worthwhile and rewarding. We are always looking for new people to join us across the Western Isles and would encourage people to enquire about opportunities. Give the district office a call at Stornoway for more information "

Both Craig and Gavin expect to be making more than just a professional contribution to island life. Craig has already officiated as a football referee with Lewis and Harris league and cup matches since his arrival in May and Gavin is a keen rugby player and coach, hoping to get involved with Stornoway rugby club and especially youth development coaching for sport.

The first chance to meet the new duo will come for island businesses and community organisations at a series of business fire safety seminars on October 30th and 31st . There, business and community representatives will be able to learn about their legal obligations on fire safety, including gaining advice on how to complete a fire risk assessment. In the meantime there’s been a busy period of acclimatisation and travel, as Gavin and Craig meet and get to know all the fire crews of the Western Isles.

Pictures show group manager Gavin Hammond and station manager Craig Lauder at Stornoway Fire Station.