19th September 2018
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Emergency services to share HQ

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Ambulance and fire crews are set to move into new joint headquarters in Lerwick in the coming weeks.

Bosses from both services gave an update at a meeting of the community safety resilience board on Wednesday.

It will mean the ambulance service moving from the NHS-owned property at Burgh Road to the fire station at Sea Road.

The shift is to allow closer working between the services, to be more cost-effective, and allow the ambulance service to shift from its location which has been criticised because of access issues.

Changes have been made to the Sea Road building layout internally and both teams are to be moved in at the site by the end October or early November.

At the meeting the fire service again explained its desire for a change in firefighters’ duties in future, which would see them responding to medical emergencies.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief officer David McGowan talked about “a transformation” of the fire service and asking firefighters to take on different roles.

That included things like dealing with cardiac arrests, “wider calls for medical assistance” as well as a prevention role too, speaking to people in the community.

In September two new state-of-the-art fire engines are to come into force in Bixter and Bressay.

Crews at the stations are taking part in training to use the rapid response vehicles.

Costing about £190,000 each, Shetland, along with Orkney and the Western Isles is among the first areas in the country to take delivery of the vehicles.

They include high-pressure lances branded “Coldcut”, which allow crews to inject a fire suppressant through the wall of a burning building to tackle flames, without having to enter.

The vehicles can carry a maximum of four firefighters but the service is hoping to operate them with three.

A defibrillator will also to be installed in both units.

Northern and Western Isles area manager Iain Macleod also gave an update on retained fire crews in the isles.

Fetlar had seen an increase in applications with seven people coming forward. The station has only two firefighters.

Fire chiefs said the service was starting to take a more flexible approach to recruiting retained staff, taking into account commitment of hours, offering more training in Shetland and looking again at how far away people were from a station.

Mr Macleod said 18 applications had been submitted in a new recruitment drive, with training starting next month.

According to fire service figures, all stations bar Lerwick and Sandwick are lacking retained firefighters. Brae has among the biggest shortage with 10 needed. Bressay needs seven as does Walls, with the former receiving three applications.

Mr Macleod said he expected the staffing situation to improve in future.

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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