Anger at Knoydart and Eigg fire station plans

Plans to axe Knoydart, Lochaber and Eigg fire stations have sparked anger. Picture: Contributed
Plans to axe Knoydart, Lochaber and Eigg fire stations have sparked anger. Picture: Contributed
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PLANS to axe two remote fire stations in the Highlands and Islands has caused outrage.

Chief Fire Officer Stewart Edgar is recommending the closure of the community response units in Knoydart, Lochaber, and the island of Eigg.

But residents claim such a move would place locals in danger.

In a report to Friday’s Fire Board, Mr Edgar claims the two stations are unsustainable, and would cost £420,000 to continue.

He said the units had “very low levels of activity and risk” and that emergency cover would continue to be provided by firefighters at Mallaig.

But watch manager Bobby Beveridge, based on the Knoydart peninsula, which has a population of around 125, said: “I was shocked to learn of the proposal to close the station.

“Losing a local presence would be dangerous. The team from Mallaig need to get a boat across, which takes 20 minutes.”

He said that while the team was not permitted to enter properties to fight a fire, the volunteers had pumps and hoses to control a blaze before the Mallaig firefighters arrive.

He refuted the chief fire officer’s claim in the report that no one was willing to sign up to the service.

Having a presence at fires would also prevent any members of the public from taking their lives into their own hands in a bid to save people from a blaze, he claimed.

Maggie Fyfe, of Eigg Heritage Trust, said: “There continues to be a role for the fire unit here. It could take firefighters a couple of hours to get across from Mallaig.”

It was also pointed out that if the Mallaig team were already on a call out, then firefighters from Fort William would need to travel the long distance.

The Highlands and Islands Fire Service has already axed a number of stations and community response units in the last year, including at Boat of Garten, Flotta on Orkney, and Foula and Out Skerries, on Shetland.