Safety fears as towns hit by 'devastating' fire service cuts

Fire appliances will be removed from over ten stations across Scotland in the latest line of budget cuts.

The fire brigade union has warned that there is “greater risk” to communities after it was revealed that fire appliances will be removed from over ten stations across Scotland due to budget cuts.

The latest cuts will see appliances removed from over ten stations, including four in Fife with Methil, Dunfermline and Glenrothes each losing one fire engine, and Kirkcaldy losing its height appliance.

Tayside Kingsway East, in Dundee, will lose one fire engine, while another is to be removed from the sole station in Perth.

The union says the cuts will result in reducing safety cover and impacting firefighters’ ability to respond to incidents.

Gus Sproul, FBU Scotland Regional Chair, said: “The FBU has repeatedly raised our concerns about the impact of cuts to the number of fire appliances serving our communities.”

“Make no mistake, fewer fire appliances and fewer firefighters mean that our communities are at greater risk. Our members who have recently attended major incidents in Fife and Tayside tell us that if they have to attend similar incidents in the future with one less appliance then lives and property will be put at significantly increased danger.

“What’s happening across the Service in Scotland is nothing more than the effect of ongoing budget cuts. Politicians and Government Ministers must decide if they are prepared to accept the citizens of their local communities being less safe in their homes.

“When the Scottish Government announced their resource-based spending review last year, we said it would have devastating consequences and here we are.

“The FBU is absolutely opposed to the cuts and will fight to maintain the level of safety and security that the local communities of Scotland deserve.”

Since 2010, 11,500 firefighters have been cut across the UK, and Scotland alone has lost 1,100 firefighters since 2013.

Fife Council leader David Ross labelled the plans “outrageous” and tabled an emergency motion for discussion at Thursdays meeting of the cabinet committee.

He said: “The proposals to withdraw appliances from Methil, Glenrothes, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy are seriously concerning and we are asking the Scottish Fire and Rescue service to withdraw these plans immediately in the interests of public safety. Budget cuts cannot be made at the expense of the safety of people and buildings.

“We are all too aware of the devastating impacts that fires can have on the lives and businesses of Fifers, having recently suffered the consequences of a number of serious fires across the Kingdom. The proposed withdrawal of the height appliance in Kirkcaldy is particularly concerning for the local hospital and Ravenscraig flats.

“We all rely heavily on the vital services the fire service provides – not just fighting fires – but responding to all the emergencies that they deal with every day.

“We are seeking an urgent meeting with the Scottish Fire and Rescue service, urging them to listen to the concerns we’re raising today and take immediate action to withdraw these proposals.

“We’ve also decided to refer this matter to our People and Communities Scrutiny Committee for their urgent consideration on June 7. That Committee will invite the Chief Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to attend the meeting and allow councillors to examine the proposals.”

The latest cuts come a week after firefighters battled a wildfire that started burning near Cannich, south of Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands.

The union warned that tackling wildfires requires a significant number of firefighters due to the extensive terrain, physically demanding work over long periods of time, and transporting equipment by hand while being exposed to significant temperatures.

It says budget cuts in the last decade have left firefighters without the proper equipment and resources to deal with climate-related incidents, while the frequency and severity of these events have increased.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Throughout this week, firefighters in Scotland have bravely battled what is now believed to be one of the biggest wildfires in UK history and which can be seen from space.

“Thankfully, both have now returned home. However, this shows us the real dangers of the climate emergency.”

Scottish conservative shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay said: “We already know that having been starved of funding for years, Scotland’s fire service needs £500million to bring its infrastructure up to scratch.

“The two-faced SNP talk about supporting our firefighters but then inflict further financial cuts that risks devastating frontline services, compromising firefighters and public safety.

“To remove 10 fire appliances from our communities is a disgrace and the minister must urgently explain what impact this might have on 999 response times.”

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