Blazing a life-saving trail

Many employers may frown upon their employees leaving work at the drop of a hat, but bosses at a specialist north-east oil and gas industry fire safety protection company understand it is a vital occurrence for two members of its staff.

Russell Moir and Tom Fleming, who both work full-time for Blaze Manufacturing Solutions, based in Laurencekirk, also volunteer for the local Coastguard team and fire service, meaning they can be called out at a moment’s notice.

Company directors, Howard and Ann Johnson, know the importance of the role the men play, and have supported them throughout their time with the emergency services, allowing them to drop their duties at work whenever their pagers sound.

Tom and Russell

Mr Moir, 38, an IT and technical support worker, explained how he manages to juggle a vital role in keeping the company’s computer systems running smoothly with being called out to harrowing rescues with the Montrose Coastguard.

“When the pager goes off, I forget everything I was thinking about and instantly switch into coastguard mode,” he said.

“Firstly, I dial into the operations room and find out what the call is and make a judgement on if I can attend or not.

Tom and Russell
“I am very lucky that the company understands what I do, and the decision to go generally rests with me. However, if for example, the networks were down resulting in the engineers and designers being unable to work, which meant I was required to fix things at Blaze, then I would do so. We are volunteers and we can’t always make every call out we get.”

Blaze Manufacturing Solutions works with major oil and gas operators to design and supply fire protection systems and loss prevention services. The company currently employs around 30 members of staff, including design and engineering teams, procurement, and business support personnel, and 100 contractors working from its Laurencekirk HQ, an engineering base at Kemnay and a regional office at Great Yarmouth.

Mr Fleming, 56, a workshop technician with the company and a retained firefighter of 38 years at the Laurencekirk station, said: “Like Russell, I can be called out at any time, day or night.

“However, I don’t get to make a judgement call on whether or not I can go. If my pager goes I have to get to the station as quickly as possible. When I first started at Blaze I told Ann and Howard that I was a firefighter and they welcomed it with open arms.

“They want to be able to give back to the community and given the kind of work Blaze does, it’s a good fit. A lot of calls I have to go to are false alarms, but some are really serious. For example, when the hotel in Auchenblae blew up we were the first on the scene – it was sheer devastation.”

Finance director at Blaze, Ann Johnson, said: “As a company we are always trying to help the local community whenever we can and a major part of this is letting Tom and Russell carry out their duties with the coastguard and fire brigade whenever they have to.

“They carry out an extremely vital role and we are immensely proud of them. While it can take them away from their work at Blaze we always know that a life in danger comes first and we are happy for them to leave at short notice as we know that when they come back they will be equally as dedicated to their roles here as they are in their retained positions.”

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