Edinburgh fire station closes amid major staffing crisis

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Families are being put at risk because the fire service has too few firefighters to staff all of its engines, warns a union.

Stations across Edinburgh have been reduced from two to one engines in recent months, while specialist roles such as water rescue and major crash response have also suffered.

Marionville Community Fire Station in Restalrig Village, Edinburgh, has been shut

Marionville Community Fire Station in Restalrig Village, Edinburgh, has been shut

The Fire Brigades Union said the biggest staffing shortage in a generation came to a head on Saturday when Marionville Fire Station was closed all day due to insufficient numbers.

“Obviously there’s an increased risk to public safety,” said John McKenzie, East of Scotland secretary for the FBU.

“The current situation is completely unacceptable. Morale on stations is at rock bottom.”

Figures compiled by the FBU show McDonald Road and Sighthill in Edinburgh often only had enough firefighters for one of their two appliances for much of August to October. Crewe Toll has also been affected.

On Saturday long-term sickness meant two firefighters were off work at Marionville meaning the remaining three colleagues had to be redeployed elsewhere, as they were unable to operate the station’s one engine.

Mr McKenzie said it was “unprecedented” for Restalrig and Craigentinny to be without their fire station.

Meanwhile, McDonald Road was down to one of two fire engines while the station’s high ladder was also not staffed – leaving the east of the city shorter still.

“We have members at the station who have been in service for up to nearly 30 years who have simply never seen anything like this before,” said Mr McKenzie. “They are embarrassed at what this service has been reduced to. Levels of fire cover are being reduced on a daily basis which inevitably increases the risk to local communities.

“Our members are trained to provide a life saving emergency service. How can emergency fire provision be provided when fire engines are left unstaffed and stations left closed?”

Mr McKenzie said the crisis has left duty officers “dreading” shifts.

Kenny Rogers, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for Edinburgh said: “We can confirm that one appliance at Marionville Community Fire Station, one appliance at McDonald Road Community Fire Station and one appliance at Sighthill Community Fire Station, were stood down.”