24th September 2017

Fresh concerns over ‘centralisation’ of fire control room

A call has been made for a parliamentary inquiry after claims a series of errors were made by fire control room operators following the controversial move from Inverness to Dundee.

In one episode a fire crew is said to have been dispatched from Bressay to deal with an incident in Yell because the North Isle looked closer on the map.

The issue has been raised by former Highlands and Islands area manager for the emergency service, Alec Kidd, who has previously worked in the isles.

However, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service says the claims that have been made are “unsubstantiated”.

Last year’s move to shift control room operations away from the Highlands prompted renewed fears the local knowledge of Shetland would be lost.

Now, local MSP Tavish Scott, who has repeatedly raised concerns about centralisation – particularly of the emergency services – says enough is enough. He insists the Scottish government has already had ample warning from senior fire officers about the controversial decision.

Mr Scott says emergency services should instead operate under one roof, but much closer to home. He insists senior fire and police officers hold the same view.

Senior officers warned the government that this could happen if local knowledge was lost – if the service was centralised in one location. TAVISH SCOTT

 

“When it comes to emergency situations we are dependent on them in life-threatening situations.

“What I think is of particular concern with the fire control room service is that senior officers warned the government that this could happen if local knowledge was lost – if the service was centralised in one location.

“These incidents make the case not for centralising things but for bringing together our emergency control rooms, so that our ambulance service, our police service, our fire service – and our coastguard, when it comes to Shetland – all come together and provide co-ordination and the local knowledge that could help save lives.”

Spokeswoman for SFRS, Irina Wilkie, said “systematic and procedural issues” had been identified since the control room transfer from Inverness.

“The public can rest assured we continue to attend at every emergency.

“Since the transfer of the Inverness control room, we have identified a number of systemic and procedural issues that we are now moving to rectify.

“We have now had the proper time required to look at the full facts and circumstances behind the unsubstantiated claims regarding our attendance at incidents and we are satisfied that we attended at each incident with the correct resource.

Any firefighter or operational control staff will know that local knowledge is derived not only from our operations control but from the highly experienced local crews based across the north. IRINA WILKIE

 

“Our modern Fire and Rescue Service also no longer operates some of the procedures referred to in the unsubstantiated claims.

“Any firefighter or operational control staff will know that local knowledge is derived not only from our operations control but from the highly experienced local crews based across the north.

“We combine the experience of those firefighters with an advanced mobilisation system and the very high level of professionalism of our operations control staff to respond in times of emergency.

“Our new north operations control is part of a £10million investment that will provide the communities of the North with a state-of-the-art capability.

“We worked in partnership with the Fire Brigades Union and our staff to develop a delivery model that, by utilising the latest technology, is more efficient and more resilient.

“There are robust standby measures in place to make certain that resilience and full operational capability is maintained at all times.”

She added chief officer, Alasdair Hay, had already arranged to meet Tavish Scott to “personally discuss these matters in full”.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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2 comments

  1. Ronald Young

    Unfortunately, the next stage will probably be to move the whole “control room” system for the UK into darkest India 🙁

    Reply
    • Neil Riddell

      “darkest India” – really?

      Reply

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