00:00:03 My name is Ludwig R, job title is I’m watch manager A with Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service. I was on a station, on an actual fire station but now I’m based at headquarters with Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service where my role is an outreach officer where I go to the community and try and make links with the community so we can provide a better service to the people we serve.
00:00:32 When I was young the road I lived in a couple of my friends lived about five doors down. Well, they had a fire and we saw the whole fire develop in front of us and they couldn’t get out and, you know, all we were doing was shouting orders at them saying, “Get up higher, higher,” you know, sort of going up to the third floor until they got onto the roof but when the fire service turned up they did such a good job, you know, it just left an impression on me that I thought,” Yeah, that’s the type of job I would like to do” because, you know, being in a situation where you’re helpless to being in a situation where you can help people was, you know, where I wanted to be.
00:01:10 I went on to take A Levels but I didn’t complete them because I applied to join the RAF Fire Service so I joined the RAF Fire Service and did a few years, about five or six years with RAF. I thought I was prepared because I was in the, I did do a little bit of time in the Air Cadets so I knew a lot about the RAF before I actually joined. But when I joined the RAF I did face a lot of racism and that’s one of the things which really I wasn’t prepared for and really had a detrimental effect on me and most of my life, the rest of my life, really. I’d never come against it before and I came, obviously pockets of racism when I was growing up because I was growing up in London but what I didn’t face was when I joined the RAF actual the system being against you as a black person in the forces and, you know, at first I found that very difficult to handle.
00:02:17 Well, I mean, it was frustrating but at the same time where I was, I was at RAF Odiham where I spent most of my time in the RAF and we had a number of black individuals there. They weren’t the same as me, fire fighters, they were in different careers but they were suffering in the same way and so a lot of the time we met, we chatted and just talking to them helped me to think that I’m not the only one going through these problems at the moment and that was enough to help me through the time I spent in the RAF.
00:02:53 When I joined Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service I didn’t know anything about recruitment process, about the tests or anything. But because I did the time in the RAF that helped me so much, you know, one of the tests was hose running. When I was in the RAF the Corporal who used to call, give me all the grief and all the problems, one of the things he used to do was, like, punishment drills, we used to run out hose all morning so when I had to go and do the test and they said, “Right, you’ve got to run out 10 lengths of hose,” I’d done mine and everybody else hadn’t even done half of theirs but 10 for me was nothing. You know, so that helped me in that way.
00:03:38 I think he’d be proud of where I am now and especially as when I was growing up, you know, if you were black you couldn’t get into that profession. It was a very difficult profession to get into and actually making it through these barriers at the time I did.