THEY moved to the country’s most remote inhabited island to watch whales and pursue a career in textiles.

But two French women have become the latest recruits to the fire brigade on Fair Isle after joining the tiny population, which has around 60 people.

Cloe Faita and Marie Bruhat are amongst the volunteers ready to respond to emergencies on the mile-wide island after signing up as retained recruits to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

The pair have completed the training needed to help save lives and Faita, 22, said: “I never thought about becoming a firefighter before, growing up in France, but I did know I couldn’t stand by and watch thinking ‘oh gosh, I wish I could help’ if something did happen.”

She went on: “Now I have the skills to make a difference and it is so important here.

“If there is an emergency we can respond and save the lives of people we will probably know.”

Faita, a former biology teacher, had planned to spend just five months on Fair Isle, but decided to stay for good after falling in love with it.

Halfway between Shetland and Orkney, the sparsely populated site is a world away from 200,000-strong Swiss city Geneva, where she was raised.

Meanwhile, Bruhat, 26, travelled north to the island, which lends its name to its traditional knitwear, in order to pursue her creative career ambitions.

Faita said: “I fell in love with the island and the people that live here.

“It is such a small community with only 50 to 60 people, but because of this everyone has a purpose.

“It’s like a jigsaw, everyone knows everyone else and you try to help each other everywhere – it works.”

That jigsaw approach also applies to employment, with residents often wearing several different hats in order to keep services sustainable.

Faita began working at the bird sanctuary before taking a temporary post as the ecological consultant for a landmark project to bring 24-hour power to locals.

She said: “I mainly knit and finish traditional Fair Isle knitwear, which I learned how to do here on the island, and volunteer at the island’s museum.

“Everyone has different jobs but we all chip in when the boat arrives and needs unloaded or there’s a big job that needs done. I think it’s great,” she added.

On the new recruits, Fair Isle Station watch manager Fiona Mitchell commented: “We are delighted that they could join us. They’ve shown such willingness and eagerness to learn.

“It’s so important to us as a crew because the people we responding to, even the partners that we are working with as other first responders, are all our neighbours, friends and family.

“It’s so tight-knit here, and it carries over into the retained service. We are here for this island when it needs us.”

Iain Bushell, SFRS deputy chief officer, added: “Cloe, Marie, and their fellow retained crew members on Fair Isle are living proof that commitment, professionalism and teamwork can make a real difference.

“Each have made a bold choice in stepping up to protect their community from harm, showing that heroes can come from any background and take many forms.

“I would encourage others to follow the example set by the Fair Isle crew – broaden their horizons, learn new skills and serve at the heart of their community by becoming a retained firefighter.”