A businessman from Skye has signed up to volunteer with the fire service – armed with his remote control “tank”.
Cameron McCrae brought the a one-and-a-half tonne unmanned “tank” which can chop down trees, climb 60 degree slopes and stop a wildfire to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s community asset register (Car).
The register is effectively made up of an army of volunteers who own boats, 4x4s and other assets which can be mobilised.
On his first call out, the 52-year-old found himself in Golspie at the scene of a massive wildfire with his £50,000 piece of kit, called Robocut.
Mr McCrae said: “This machine can go where firefighters can’t, following the direction of the senior officers – and it will help stop or redirect wildfires then and there.
“At Golspie, the scale of the fire was incredible and I used Robocut to create a 13ft wide, half-a-mile long firebreaks in the gorse and heather to stop the fire spreading across the mountain.
“It’s extremely versatile and it can get up, down and over all sorts of terrain.
“It was brilliant to get involved on the ground – and really make a difference.”
The value of the CAR scheme also came to the fore during major snowstorms earlier this year when specialists with 4×4 vehicles were mobilised alongside firefighters by Operations Control to reach stranded motorists and households.
Now others have been urged to offer their services.
Potential applicants undergo a rigorous registration process to ensure they are appropriately qualified to operate their asset alongside an inspection of their equipment to ensure it is safe. Although they will be called out if the emergency requires, they are not obliged to attend.
Assistant chief officer Lewis Ramsay said: “We always look for new and innovative, dynamic but nonetheless appropriate partnerships wherever possible to absolutely ensure the safety of our communities.
“Cameron and Robocut embody that ethos and we continue to call on those who are knowledgeable in handling their specialist equipment to come forward and give something back to their community.”