Three SFRS officers awarded Queen's Fire Service Medal

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Group Manager Andrew Watt and WM Linda Coughlan, alongside retained Watch Manager Kenneth Simmons received the prestigious award.

The outstanding contributions of three Scottish Fire and Rescue Service officers have been marked with the award of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

Group Manager Andrew Watt and WM Linda Coughlan, alongside retained Watch Manager Kenneth Simmons each received the highest award for members of the fire and rescue services throughout the Commonwealth.

And Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Chief Officer Alasdair Hay has been bestowed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

This prestigious award is in recognition of his 34 years of dedicated service to the fire service and communities in Scotland.

Group Manager Andrew Watt was recognised for his outstanding contribution to our partnership work with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.

Meanwhile WM Coughlan’s dedicated and lengthy service within Operations Control was also marked with the award.

WM Simmons receives his QFSM for his contribution to the development of retained firefighting across Scotland, including work with the Scottish Government during a long and varied career.

The dedication of all four was formally acknowledged earlier today, on Saturday, June 17.
Chair of the SFRS Board, Pat Watters, said: “I am thoroughly delighted to learn that the commitment of each of these outstanding individuals has been recognised.

“As we all know, many of our staff regularly go above and beyond what is expected of them and awards of this calibre only go to show that this dedication is recognised by peers and, indeed, local communities.

“I would like to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to Andrew, Linda, Kenneth and Chief Officer Alasdair Hay - and to thank them once again for their duty and their professionalism.

“This should be a very great source of pride to all of those within the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service family who have displayed outstanding commitment throughout their entire careers.”

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay

Awards - CO Hay

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay has served communities for 34 years and now leads the UK’s biggest Fire and Rescue Service.

On 16 August 2012, he was announced as Scotland’s first Chief Officer of the new single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, which launched on April 1, 2013.

Edinburgh-born Alasdair joined Essex Fire Brigade in 1983 and rose rapidly through the ranks in Essex being promoted to Station Officer in 1990.

He completed a two year secondment, as the Senior Instructor, to the Scottish Fire Service Training School from 1992 until 1994 before transferring to Tayside Fire and Rescue.

In 2002 he became a member of Tayside Fire and Rescue’s corporate Management Team, serving firstly as Commander Technical Services then as Commander Personnel Services.

This was followed by an appointment to Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2007 with a wide ranging portfolio responsible for all service support functions.

He was further promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer in June 2008 with responsibility for all the service delivery aspects of Tayside Fire and Rescue.

In 2011 he was seconded to work with the Scottish Government for a period of six months to consider in detail the operational service delivery and operational command supervision of the fire and rescue services across Scotland as part of the wider reform of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

On his return from secondment Alasdair became part of the Strategic Peer Support Team supporting Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service through their challenges and was promoted to Tayside’s Chief Fire Officer in April 2012.

Since then, he has taken a lead role in continuing the fire service’s reform as Chief Officer of the SFRS which is the fourth largest fire service in the world, with 356 fire stations, over 7,000 firefighters and 867 support staff.

He was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, Fire Service Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 2003 and the Queen’s Fire Service Medal in the Birthday Honours list in 2011 for distinguished service.

Alasdair has also completed a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management and is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to learn that Linda, Andrew and Kenneth have been recognised with this most prestigious honour.

“They exemplify the very spirit of all of our amazing people within the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who always go that extra mile for the people of Scotland.

“I myself am most honoured and very humbled, and I look forward to continuing to lead the national service forward from strength to ever greater strength.


Watch Manager Linda Coughlan

Awards - Linda Coughlan

Watch Manager Linda Coughlan has stood on the unseen front line for more than 40 years.
The experienced Scottish Fire and Rescue Service officer is based at Operations Control at Johnstone.

And she has responded to countless calls from members of the public at times of emergency since joining the legacy Strathclyde Fire Brigade as a Fire Control Operator in September 1976.

In 1977, Linda transferred to D Division in Ayr and in 1980 was promoted to Leading Fire Control Operator in F Division, covering East and West Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute.

In 1985, she was promoted to Fire Control Officer and joined a project team to introduce the first digital mobilisation system in the legacy force.

This system was successfully introduced in 1986, becoming only the second to be adopted in the UK.

Linda was instrumental to the introduction of the system and as well as being there with Red Watch on the launch day, she also welcomed visitors from all the over the world who were interested in visiting the state-of-the-art mobilisation system.

Throughout her dedicated career Linda has received a number of temporary promotions, regularly to Group Fire Control Officer.

In 2009, she also worked on an Audit project within Strathclyde Fire and Rescue’s Corporate Development team.

Linda is currently Watch Manager of Red Watch at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Operations Control at Johnstone – serving diverse communities across the West.

As well as being dedicated to her role at Operations Control, Linda has worked closely with The Fire Fighters charity for over 30 years.

Linda is the charity’s Volunteer Scottish Administrator and raises funds across the country while also carrying out home and hospital visits to the charity’s benefactors.

And she said her father - retired Assistant Divisional Officer of Strathclyde Fire Brigade, Allan MacKay – is delighted.

She said: “I have enjoyed my career immensely.

“I’m so honoured to have received the award, not only on behalf of myself but for all Operations Control Staff and for all staff at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“To be honest, I’m still in shock – and honoured and proud. I definitely see it as an achievement for each and every one of us and all my colleagues within the Service.

“My family is really proud, especially my Dad. He was thrilled when I showed him the letter.”


Group Manager Andrew Watt

Awards - Andy Watt

Group Manager Andy Watt first became involved in 2009 with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s lifesaving partnership with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.

He became chair of the group - and has since coordinated and overseen the expansion of the partnership’s lifesaving work with 17 volunteer groups in regions all across Scotland.

The partnership’s work is mainly focussed on presenting to school pupils over the age of 16 and offering them the opportunity to join the stem cell donor register.

These presentations are designed to encourage peer involvement and have been very effective as a means of promoting positive citizenship, leadership and personal/collective responsibility.

To date the SFRS/Anthony Nolan partnership has recruited a staggering 8,500 people onto the stem cell register, with 25 of those people going on to make life-saving donations.

Andy has frequently gone the `extra mile` for the charity, including running the 55 mile Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultramarathon, raising over £3,000 in the process.

Andy has even had family members of blood cancer patients stay with his family to ease the travelling and financial burden, when those patients have been going through their transplant process.

He has been a firefighter for 25 years, joining the Fire Service as a Retained firefighter at Inveraray in 1992 before becoming a wholetime firefighter in 1998 at Dumbarton. 

In 2011 Andy was promoted to Station Manager in South Lanarkshire and then Group Manager B within Asset Management in 2015.

Speaking of his award, he said: “I was completely speechless when I received notification of the Award. To me, it is a fantastic reflection of the lifesaving work of the SFRS, our amazing volunteers and the charity Anthony Nolan.

“I am incredibly honoured and humbled to receive the Queen’s Fire Service Medal and delighted that I have been able to play a small part in saving and improving the lives of people with blood cancer.”


Watch Manager Kenneth Simmons

Awards - Kenneth Simmons

Photo courtesy of Dumfries and Galloway Life Magazine

Kenneth Simmons has served communities across Scotland for almost four decades.

He is presently a wholetime Crew Manager based at Dumfries Community Fire Station and a retained Watch Manager at Annan.

Kenneth followed in the footsteps of both his father and uncle when he joined Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service in January 1978.

The committed firefighter was promoted to Leading Firefighter in 1989 and then sub-officer in charge in 1998.

Following the rank to role process – he was made Watch Manager B.

Kenneth was then seconded to the Scottish Government from May 2010 to June 2012 where he undertook the role of Retained Duty System Advisory Officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Advisory Unit (SFRAU).

In July 2012, as Kenneth was progressed to his Crew Manager role at Dumfries.

During this period he was heavily involved in arranging RDS conferences, bringing colleagues from across the UK together to discuss this vital community role.

Retained Duty System firefighters live or work in communities where they make themselves available if an emergency arises.

Kenneth has received his QFSM in recognition of distinguished service which saw him stand on the front line at many incidents the Lockerbie disaster.

The father-of-two said: “This is a job that I have loved. I love working with people and being so involved in the community and helping people to stay safe.

“I’m emotional, humble and proud to receive this award not only for myself but for my colleagues at both at Annan and Dumfries. This is a reflection of the hard work of all of us.

“And, of course, for my family. At times it is was difficult to juggle family and work life but I know that they understand – and that my kids are proud of their dad.

“It’s a great feeling of achievement working for the service for almost 40 years. A member of the public saying thank you is just as much of an award as anything else.”