Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in 'crisis': Time running out for SNP to deliver decent public services – Scotsman comment

Despite the increasing threat from floods and wildfires, the fire service’s budget has been frozen

With a Police Scotland trial in which officers will not investigate ‘low-level crime’ and patients dying because of the pressure on NHS accident and emergency departments, the Fire Brigades Union’s claim that the service is in “crisis” is entirely unsurprising. It would be more of a shock to hear of a vital public service that is actually doing well.

Some might think that, as a union, ‘they would say that, wouldn’t they?’ That this is simply union officials deploying emotive language as they argue their corner for better working conditions for their members. However, the FBU provided evidence of a service in decline, saying more than 1,200 firefighter jobs had been lost since the formation of the single Scottish service in 2013. It also warned that another 780 were at risk because the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s budget is due to be kept the same for the next four years.

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This summer, retained firefighters, who are not full-time staff, worked 14-hour shifts as they tackled a wildfire at Cannich near Inverness that was possibly the UK’s biggest ever. A survey of firefighters found 93 per cent did not believe the SFRS was “adequately resourced enough to deal with the increase in climate-related incidents such as wildfires and flooding”. As the scale of the fire service’s task is increasing while high inflation undermines its capabilities, it seems understandable that the FBU is complaining its members are being stretched overly thin.

The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens. Therefore, with the UK Government responsible for defence, one of the Scottish Government’s basic priorities is to ensure our emergency services are in a fit state. If they cannot even do that, it raises serious questions about the SNP’s fitness to run the country – let alone set up an entirely independent one, which would have an even smaller budget to squander on farcical blunders like the deposit return scheme and calamitous projects like the ongoing attempt to build two ferries.

With voters set to deliver their judgment in a UK general election, the time for the SNP to start delivering is running out



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