Ex-military personnel move to ‘civvy street’ to drive emergency water tankers

They’re used to performing under pressure and are trained to stay calm in a crisis which is why United Utilities has recruited seven ex-military personnel to drive its new fleet of water on wheels tankers.

The tankers are deployed in emergencies to pump water into networks and keep the taps flowing after a water pipe bursts or a leak is detected. The seven ex-services personnel join a total of 30 new drivers hired by United Utilities after it added 19 new tankers to its 49-strong fleet.

United Utilities’ water network systems manager, Michael Haworth, said: “As a major employer and FTSE 100 company based in the North West, we’re keen to support the armed forces and are committed to the Armed Forces Covenant.

“Someone with a services background can bring a wealth of valuable skills to the workplace. Years of rigorous training, commitment and hard work – often in incredibly challenging conditions - means that ex-military personnel have skills which are highly sought after by employers. We encourage employees to sign up as reservists and regularly recruit people leaving military service,” he added.

The new recruits have all been taken on as regional response controllers and include serving reservists and former army, navy and air force personnel.

Phil Oskoui is a lance corporal in the army reserves, currently serving with 156 regiment Royal Logistics Corps. He said: “I was attracted to this job because of the reputation United Utilities has as a supporter of the armed forces.  It can be quite difficult sometimes trying to manage home life, work and my additional duties with the reserves so working for a company that promotes participation in the reserves just makes things easier to manage. 

“I think the most valuable skill I gained from serving in the reserves is the ability to think on my feet and make decisions unaided.  There are many instances in my new role where I will have to coordinate between the network technicians, the fleet and the potential impact on traffic.”

Laurence Bradley completed operational tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said: “I’ve been with the reserves for 34 years and still serve in the army reserve as squadron sergeant major with the Royal Logistics Corps based in Salford.

“I wanted to join United Utilities because, like the army, it’s a good employer and values its employees by training them and paying them well. I was also aware that it supports the armed forces as part of the covenant scheme. The military skills that are most applicable to my new role include my HGV driving skills, the ability to adapt to new techniques and learn new skills and most importantly the people skills needed to deal with members of the public who may be upset,“ he added.

United Utilities has a long history of recruiting ex-military personnel and in 2016 received the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Gold Award - the Ministry of Defence’s highest recognition for employer support to the armed forces. This award is designed to recognise employers who support the armed forces community and their families and to inspire others to do the same.