Fire service facing 'real crisis' as appliances removed from stations across Scotland

Temporary removals of appliances is taking place at 10 stations across the country.
Firefighters attend to a fire on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland in FebruaryFirefighters attend to a fire on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland in February
Firefighters attend to a fire on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland in February

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Union officials have warned that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is facing a “real crisis” after plans emerged to strip appliances from 10 stations across the country as critics said cuts would put the public at “greater risk”.

The SFRS said the appliances will be withdrawn on a temporary basis from stations in Maryhill, Govan and Cowcaddens in Glasgow, Greenock, Hamilton, Kingsway East in Dundee, Perth, Dunfermline, Glenrothes and Methil.

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The service said the appliances will be removed on a “temporary basis” from September.

The SFRS is projected to receive a flat cash budget settlement from the Scottish Government for the next four years.

In turn, the SFRS must make £36 million in cuts, including £11 million in 2023 and 2024 alone.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned the SFRS will face a “real crisis” if funding is not improved.

Scottish secretary John McKenzie said: “Recent events at Jenners in Edinburgh and Cannich in the Highlands show the dangers our members face.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is heading for a real crisis if the Scottish Government continues to underfund this essential public service.

“The withdrawal of appliances at these stations is the latest in a long line of cuts that are undermining our members’ ability to respond to incidents in the communities we serve.

“We cannot go on like this, enough is enough.”

Scottish Labour said the cuts would put people at “greater risk”.

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Katy Clark MSP said: "These damaging cuts to our vital firefighting services will put us all at greater risk. Firefighters have seen their budgets slashed by real terms cuts, and this latest move will continue to put our fire services under extreme pressure.

"These grave concerns about the safety levels facing our fire services cannot be ignored any longer. Fire fighters deserve better than this."

The FBU said the SFRS has made several cuts over the last decade, with the loss of more than 1,100 firefighter jobs, the closure of five control-rooms and a 14% increase in response time per incident.

The union is calling upon its members and the communities they serve to lobby the Scottish Government for increased investment.

An FBU statement said: “Over the coming weeks and months, we will be lobbying the Scottish Government, MSPs and local councillors to alert them to this crisis and seek their support to bring about change.

“There is no hiding place for our elected representatives any more, this is too important for that.

“They need to decide which side they are on – the side of communities and the firefighters who keep them safe, or the side of those who put lives in danger through impossible budget allocations?”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer David Farries confirmed the “temporary withdrawal” of second and third appliances from 10 stations.

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He said: “We will always ensure the resources we have and our people are best placed to protect communities.

“We have identified 10 fire stations where we can temporarily remove an appliance with the least impact on response times.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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