In 1969, at the age of 16, Brian Allaway joined the Belfast Fire Brigade. He served on operational watches through the 1970s and 80s, in Chichester Street, Ardoyne and Springfield Road Stations and being promoted through the ranks he attained the rank of Divisional Commander in Northern Ireland. In 1994, he transferred to Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade and was based in Edinburgh. Further promotions saw him appointed to the role of Firemaster in 2002. (This historic title, dating from at least 1824, was legislatively changed to Chief Officer in 2005, this makes Brian the last Firemaster of Edinburgh.)
Having joined the fire service with little in the way of formal qualifications, Brian passed the fire service promotion exams and becoming hooked on understanding how things and people work he continued with part time study throughout his career, gaining a BA from the Open University, an MSSc from the Queen’s University of Belfast and a PhD from The University of Edinburgh. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers and holds the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.
Brian retired in 2010 after 41 years in the fire and rescue service, service that included the 25 years of troubles in Northern Ireland.