Ways of getting retained firefighters on the books have been streamlined to dramatically cut recruitment times, which could help bring staffing levels at rural stations back up to “optimum levels”.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has introduced changes which should see willing candidates hired within 16 weeks.
That should mark a dramatic reduction on the nine-months it has typically taken until now to bring in new blood to the service.
Problems with recruitment have been felt acutely in Fetlar, where the fire tender is off the run because of a shortfall in retained staff. Any fire incidents that happen there currently need to be dealt with by crews from outwith the isle.
Vice-chairman of Shetland community safety board Allison Duncan has welcomed the move. He said the time had come for Fetlar to be prioritised at last week’s meeting of the community safety and resilience board at the town hall.
Speaking after the meeting, he told this newspaper: “They’ve reduced the recruitment time down from 15 months to four months. That’s a very positive response, there.
“It’s not only a massive improvement, but it would hopefully benefit recruitment throughout the whole of Shetland where there are some stations where there are vacancies for fire stations in the communities.
SFRS area manager, Billy Wilson, said he hoped the streamlining process would make the job of a retained firefighter more attractive to potential applicants.
“What we find historically is the recruitment process can take nine months, and sometimes longer than that. But we’ve done a lot of work since we’ve become the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and we’ve refined that process to make it much more efficient and much more effective.”
• Full story in this week’s Shetland Times.