Watch Manager
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service

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Andrew K

00:00:05 My name is Andy Kelly, I’m a watch manager with the community safety Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service and I’m based at Lauriston in the service headquarters. My job involves dealing with young people that take part…I’m one of the instructors on a course called Fire Skills For Success which gives people who are in the 14-19 age group the opportunity to come along, spend two weeks with us and at the end of it they can walk away with a qualification. It’s great fun, it is, it’s very involved and there’s a lot of physical effort involved but it’s good. It’s team building, you know, we also have some fun, play with hoses and things like that, you know, so there’s lots of water so some people do get wet occasionally but it is, it’s great fun.

00:00:49 When I was at school I was quite good at maths and arithmetic. I really liked doing maths and arithmetic. I’ve done a lot of accounting and economics, always very financially orientated. I had a few O Levels, got a few highers and left school and went to work in an office. I worked in an office and mainly done accounting for pension funds for an American bank. I worked there for five years and then I went and worked for Standard Life for a year. During that time I realised that working in an office wasn’t the job that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I could see people who had been in that job for 30 or 40 years and looked very unhappy. I’d always wanted to be a fireman, or, you know, that was always the job that I wanted to do as a small boy growing up so it was something that I tried to do and fortunately when I was 24 I managed to get into the fire service.

00:01:47 The thing that I enjoy about being a fire fighter was the camaraderie. You’re part of a big family, you spend so much time with the guys that you work with that you do become very, very close. You spend time with their families as well, you know, we go to a lot of social events, you spend time with their partners or their families. So, the camaraderie was great. There was also the excitement of going out on fire engines. It’s a thrill running about on a fire engine. Unfortunately, it’s often at someone’s detriment but it is, it’s good. I remember being involved in a large fire that we had in the Cougie area a few years ago and I was still on a high from it for days afterwards because it was such a big fire, because there was so much involved, because of the things that happened. I was on a high for days and it’s, you know, it’s just a pure adrenalin rush. It’s a natural high, it’s very, very great, it’s brilliant.

00:02:40 I think being in the fire service has taught me to value life. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow so make the most of what you have at the moment. It’s taught me to enjoy my family, to enjoy the things that I have in life and never to always be seeking something better because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow and unfortunately I’ve seen what does happen to people tomorrow.

00:03:02 I would say the biggest turning point in my life has been the birth of my first son. To all of a sudden be responsible for someone else’s life and have a responsibility to look after that person is life changing and until you’ve had children of your own, I don’t think anybody will understand what it’s like.

00:03:27 I would say the most important thing I’ll pass onto my sons is that when you’re picking a job, pick a job that you want to do and that you enjoy. There’s nothing worse than being in a job that you’re not enjoying. Find a job that you want to do, if it doesn’t suit you, get another job. There are jobs out there if you look hard enough and to find a job that you enjoy doing and that you feel really passionately about is fantastic. I’ve been in the fire service for 12 years and it’s the best move I’ve made.

00:03:54 In 10 years time I would like to see myself hopefully promoted another role or maybe two roles. In 20 years time I’ll be retired so I hope to see myself sitting on a beach somewhere sunning myself.


Andy Kelly is a Watch Manager with Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service. “It’s a thrill running about on a fire engine.” Now he is one of the instructors on a course called Fire Skills For Success which gives people who are in the 14-19 age group an experience of the fire service.

More information about Fire service officers (watch manager and below)

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

91%  male 
9%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Workers in this unit group co-ordinate and participate in fire fighting activities, provide emergency services in the event of accidents or bomb alerts, and advise on fire prevention.
There are no formal academic requirements, although applicants to fire control roles must demonstrate basic literacy and numeracy, keyboard and communication skills. Applicants to fire-fighter roles must pass psychological, physical and medical tests. Some Fire and Rescue Services operate direct entry recruitment processes to managerial operational roles. There is a minimum age limit of 18 years for entry to fire-fighter and control operator roles.
  • Inspects premises to identify potential fire hazards and to check that fire fighting equipment is available and in working order and that statutory fire safety regulations are met;
  • Arranges fire drills and tests alarm systems and equipment;
  • Travels to fire or other emergency by vehicle and locates water mains if necessary;
  • Operates hose pipes, ladders, chemical, foam, gas or powder fire extinguishing appliances;
  • Rescues people or animals trapped by fire and administers first aid;
  • Removes goods from fire damaged premises, clears excess water, makes safe any structural hazards and takes any other necessary steps to reduce damage to property;
  • Attends and deals with bomb alerts and accidents involving spillage of hazardous substances;
  • Advises on fire safety measures in new buildings;
  • Supervises a watch.
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