Part-time fire service ‘on its knees’

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has written to Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill demanding answers over recent claims that the part-time fire-fighters system is “on its knees”. 

This follows comments from union leaders at the Fire Brigades Union Scotland, who made the claims about the part-time system and suggested large parts of the country do not have fire cover.

More than 40 per cent of Scotland’s fire-fighters are retained staff – professional firemen and women who have other jobs but respond to emergency calls. Retained stations provide the majority of services in remote and rural areas, including the Northern Isles and cover roughly 90 per cent of the Scottish landmass.

Mr Scott said: “I find the comments from the FBUS very worrying indeed, particularly at a time when people in the north of Scotland have already seen a loss of local knowledge and responsibility following the closure of the Inverness Fire Control Room earlier in the year.”

“It is hugely important that people in the Northern Isles can have confidence, that in their time of need, the emergency services are fully equipped and prepared to deal with any situation at any time. That is why we have sought the commitment of the Scottish government to ensure that these vital services are properly supported and maintained, and that the concerns raised by the FBUS are fully addressed.”

His Orkney counterpart Mr McArthur said:“Locally retained fire-fighters play an essential role in delivering vital emergency cover throughout rural and island communities. Scottish ministers should know this, yet we still continue to see the negative impacts of their efforts to make a single force work.”

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