Foula and Skerries fire stations no longer sustainable, says report
Fire stations in Foula and Skerries will face the axe when members of the Highlands and Islands Fire Board meet in Inverness on Friday.
The future of the small units have been in doubt for some time, but a report going before the board highlights a number of key deficiencies.
Foula, in particular, falls short of the required mark. The report says it has received only six emergency calls in five years.
But the six personnel members – a unit of Foula’s size should ideally have a 12-strong crew – have been unable to respond to any of the call-outs, according to the findings.
During that time the unit has cost the board around £100,000. Another £200,000 or more in capital investment would have to be made if the unit was to continue operating.
Foula failed to make the grade in five key criteria areas of personnel, physical attributes, commitment, training and best value and wellbeing.
The report states: “Due to the inability for Foula to meet the board’s agreed sustainability criteria, combined with low levels of activity and risk, Foula retained station is deemed unsustainable.
“Emergency cover will continue to be provided from the mainland along with a bespoke prevention and protection action plan put in place.”
The report says the same about Skerries, the other island station under threat.
The station does at least get a green light for personnel and physical attributes, with nine crew members meaning sufficient numbers of retained firefighters are active.
But its personnel are unable to fulfil their contractual commitment to be available for emergency cover. The unit has been unable to achieve that standard since its inception in 2005.
The report also highlights very low levels of activity and risk in Skerries, and staff are unable to demonstrate competent training.
“The unit has received only two emergency calls (grass fire and flooded boat) in five years,” the report states.
“The unit has cost the board circa £222,000 in the last five years and this would continue to a minimum of circa £225,000 over five years. The board would be required to invest circa £200,000 in capital investment if the unit was to continue.”
Shetland will be represented at Friday’s meeting by local board members Allison Duncan and Alastair Cooper.
Mr Duncan said he would make no comment on the closures until after the board had made its decision.