Rocker frontman swaps the stage for firefighting on Scots island

John Shurmer-Smith spent several years as a frontman before changing his career.

Rocker frontman swaps the stage for firefighting on the Isle of Skye Scottish Fire and Rescue

A former rock n roll singer has swapped playing in front of crowds of thousands to fighting fires on a picturesque Scottish island.

John Shurmer-Smith, better known by his stage name Louis Barabbas, spent several years as the frontman of alternative rock band, The Bedlam Six.

The band entertained fans across Europe before calling it quits in 2016.

After the split, John moved to the Isle of Skye and became an on call firefighter with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), responding to emergencies via a pager.

“Becoming a firefighter was never a childhood dream when I was younger,” he said.

“I’ve always been involved in music and art and have never really considered myself as being a practical person – my girlfriend does all the DIY.

“But, four years on, I can honestly say that becoming an on call firefighter is the best thing I have ever done.”

John quickly immersed himself into local life and learned of the on call role through his postman, who also happens to be Watch Commander at nearby Dunvegan Community Fire Station.

Reflecting on his journey from stage-diving to life-saving, John said: “The fire service is full of very different people with lots of very different skills. In a way, the camaraderie between the crews is a lot like being in a band.

“In music, I never really felt necessary or needed. But this is a job where everyone is very much needed, and people recognise and value the work you do.

“I’ve responded to a variety of emergency incidents – everything apart from a cat stuck up a tree.

“The on call role can be challenging, but in small communities like Skye, we know that people respect and depend on us. We all help each other.”

Like many communities, Dunvegan and fire stations across Skye are in need of more people to step forward and become on call firefighters.

John is determined to use his path as proof that anyone who works hard can succeed with the SFRS.

He said: “I spent my whole life in music and art.

“Before I joined the SFRS, the most energetic thing I did routinely was stagedive into a crowd.

“So if I can do it, anyone can – as long as they are committed and are prepared to work hard.

“If you give it a go and work hard, you’ll surprise yourself – I certainly did.”

The SFRS is currently recruiting on call firefighters in communities across Scotland.

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