SCOTLAND’S longest-serving firefighter has retired after an incredible career spanning 55 years of service.

Watch Commander Dave Farries QFSM first joined South Eastern Fire Brigade in Edinburgh as a junior fireman in August 1968.

The 70-year-old has dedicated his life to keeping communities safe and saving lives throughout the east of Scotland.

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His decades of service have included lengthy spells as a firefighter, instructor and investigator and he was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM) in 2014.

Latterly, Farries (below) – who grew up in Hawick before moving to Edinburgh in 1968 - worked as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) heritage officer and has been integral in the opening of the new Museum of Scottish Fire Heritage in Edinburgh, where he will continue as a volunteer.   

The grandfather-of-three, who lives in the Currie are of Edinburgh with wife Michelle, said: “It is like cutting off an arm. I’m taking a big part of me right out and it’s away.  

“I’ve loved my career and the opportunities I’ve had through the fire service.

The National:

“While I will still be connected through volunteering with the museum, it is still a big part of my life which is completely changing.

“Many people thought I would just go on until I dropped and I probably could have but I thought better of it. I’ll be 71 in a few weeks and now is the time to go.” 

The SFRS held a ceremony in Farries' honour at the recently-opened museum, where he was presented with his retiral certificate by Chief Officer Ross Haggart in front of family, friends and colleagues past and present.

Chief Officer Haggart said: “Dave epitomises what it means to be a firefighter. He has selflessly dedicated his life to help and serve others.

“He has had a profound and positive influence in teaching and developing other firefighters during his long career. 

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“Dave’s legacy on our service will always remain. We are grateful for his tireless commitment and the huge amount of personal time he has given to keep our heritage alive.” 

A personal tribute was also paid by Farries' son, also David, who followed his father into service and is currently the assistant chief officer and director of service delivery with SFRS.

He said: “My father lives the values of the fire service, day in day out. He is unreservedly and unapologetically a ‘company man’ who eats, sleeps and breathes fire brigade.”

Rugby is another of Farries’s great passions and he has helped to run the Lothian and Borders, Scottish and British Fire Service Brigade teams while also devoting his time to supporting a number of charities.

Hit charitable work turns festive every year in December when he dons the red suit of Father Christmas to visit a local nursery school.  

He was also a volunteer at the old fire museum at Lauriston Place in Edinburgh, where he spent several years discovering and preserving a treasure trove of fire service artefacts.  

Farries said: “I always said I wasn’t going to pack it in until the new museum opened.

“I needed to be in uniform to make sure I got my tuppence worth in. Now it is up and running, it is a good time to call it a day.”