Response to Ayr hotel fire proves 'madness' of fire service cuts

The crew attending the fire at Ayr Station Hotel was forced to wait for a specialist high reach fire engine after budget cuts.

Ayr Station Hotel fire proves ‘madness’ of cutbacks, says Fire Brigade Union STV News

The response to a massive blaze which devastated a historic hotel has proved cuts to Scotland’s fire service are “madness,” a trade union has said.

Crews rushed to Ayr Station Hotel at around 5.30pm on Monday with work to contain the huge fire going into Tuesday morning.

But local teams were reportedly forced to wait 20 minutes for firefighters from Kilmarnock to arrive at the scene with the high reach equipment – after Ayr Fire Station had its specialist appliance removed around a month ago.

It comes after The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) had suffered from years of underinvestment and was now at risk of further budget cuts.

The SNP minister with responsibility for the SFRS, Siobhian Brown, is also the local MSP for Ayr.

Colin Brown, Scottish Executive Council member of the FBU said cuts overseen by the community safety minister were “endangering the lives of firefighters”.

He said: “The fire at the Station Hotel Ayr is the latest example of the madness of the cuts being imposed on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“At a time when fire appliances and high reach vehicles have been withdrawn this huge fire meant that fire appliances were called from across the South and West of Scotland leaving communities behind with little or no cover should another incident have occurred at the same time.

“Surely, with this incident Siobhian Brown can see that the cuts she is overseeing are endangering the lives of firefighters and the communities they serve.”

The FBU has warned 1,200 firefighter roles have been lost during the last decade – with a further 339 positions likely to go over the next year.

Mr Brown added: “She now has all the evidence she needs to go back to the Finance Secretary and demand a greater share of the budget to put an end to the decade of irresponsible cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service.”

Firefighters remain at the scene of the fire with ScotRail warning that trains will be suspended from the station for a number of days.

Two 13-year-olds and one 17-year-old have been arrested and charged in connection with the blaze and will be reported to authorities.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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