ORKNEY Islands Council leaders claim lives are at risk unless the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service retains its control room in Inverness, where they believe staff have the best local knowledge of remote locations.
The Board of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are considering a reduction in fire control rooms around Scotland.
Council leader Steven Heddle and councillor Andrew Drever, the chair of the authority’s police and fire sub-committee, have written to Board Chair Pat Watters outlining their concerns.
Councillor Heddle said: “The experience and knowledge held by Inverness control room staff is immense and has been acquired over a long period.
“These operators are integral to the community they serve. They have a vast understanding of the Highlands and Islands – an area often described as the size of Belgium.
“It’s an area of great diversity in terms of geography, dialect, the Gaelic language and the duplication of place names throughout Shetland, Orkney the Western Isles and Highlands.
“The knowledge and expertise of the control room staff ensures that the response to fires and other emergencies across the region is second to none.”
Councillor Drever added: “This knowledge extends to the location and availability of other key resources such as ferries, lifeboats and council pilot launches.
“Getting the right resources to the right place at the right time gives the best chance of saving lives.
“This is why it is crucial that the control room – and this expert knowledge - is retained in Inverness and why we welcome the opportunity for further consideration before the Board makes a final decision.”