Alarm at fire service changes

Girvan Fires Station
Girvan Fires Station

The future of fire stations across Ayshire is uncertain after senior Scottish Fire Service managers were told that the current operational model is unsustainable.

Proposals to redesign and modernise the service, involving the possible closure of fire stations and a reduction in firefighter numbers, were leaked last week and now local politicians are seeking reassurances that Ayrshire stations, which are mostly manned by retained crews, won’t be at risk in any future restructuring.

Brian Whittle. South of Scotland Conservative MSP said: “While it’s important that our fire service is fit for the 21st century, I’m wary of any proposal if it involves reducing the number of stations in rural areas.

“Retained stations in places like Mauchline, Colmonell, Girvan, Maybole, Dalmellington, New Cumnock & Cumnock play an important role in protecting their local area. Being able to get to the scene of fires and other emergencies quickly can make all the difference.

“I’ll be writing to the head of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and the responsible minister within the Scottish Government to clarify their plans and emphasise the importance of ensuring that response times for rural communities don’t suffer as a result of any changes.”

There have been problems in some areas recruiting retained crews, and according to the Fire Brigades Union Scotland many fire engines are unavailable because not enough crew members can respond.

Scottish Fire and Rescue has tried being flexible about retained crews and some fire fighters have worked with two crews, depending on which station they are nearest, at home or their place of work.