Scotland

Almost 700 firefighters leave since single service formed

Firefighter fighting fire Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The latest figures show the number of full-time firefighters in Scotland dropped by 667

Scotland has lost almost 1,000 fire service staff in the past three years, according to new figures.

Statistics released by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) showed a drop of 956 staff since the creation of the single fire service in 2013.

The losses include 667 whole-time or "retained" firefighters and 289 people employed in support or control room roles.

The service had 8,547 staff in 2013. That fell to 7,591 this year.

There was an 18% drop in the number of volunteers in the service between 2013 and 2016, which saw numbers drop from 417 to 342.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said the figures reflected "planned organisational structure changes" to deliver a more "effective and efficient" service across Scotland.

However, the brigade is planning a firefighter recruitment drive towards the end of this year.

A spokesman said: "We inherited a range of crewing models from Scotland's eight former services and work has been ongoing to standardise these. Our resource-based crewing model will ensure we have the staffing capacity and capability to deal with all incidents within our communities."

He added: "As a national service, we are better placed to look strategically at the needs of the people of Scotland and deploy our resources where they are needed to ensure the safety of our communities across the country."

'More job losses'

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur raised concerns about the impact of the service merger in 2013.

He said: "Fire service staff across Scotland save lives every day. We need to ensure that they have the resources they need to do their jobs.

"Since the creation of SFRS, we have lost around 700 fire fighters. These are not only full-time staff but also retained firefighters who provide frontline cover in almost every rural community.

"These figures underline the scale of the impact that SNP centralisation has had on our emergency services.

"We know that more job losses are coming, with plans for the closure of control rooms in the north of Scotland later this year."

Image caption Scotland's eight fire brigades were merged in 2013

A Scottish government spokeswoman responded by saying that the SFRS continued to deliver the "high standard" of services required to "keep Scotland safe".

She added: "The SFRS has worked closely with the Fire Brigades Union to achieve the right level of staffing to meet the needs of a modern service with a greater emphasis on prevention and to remove the duplication of the previous structure, which was designed to support eight separate services.

"There have been no station closures and SFRS operates a policy of no compulsory redundancies. A further recruitment campaign will also begin later this year."

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