South Scotland

Fire brigades union warning over Scottish job cuts

Firefighters tackle a small blaze in Glasgow
Image caption The FBU is concerned about the impact cuts would have on frontline services

Any further cuts to frontline fire and rescue staff in Scotland would pose a danger to the public and fire crews, union chiefs have warned.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it was concerned about looming cuts to public services and their impact in Scotland.

It claimed the fire service had already suffered significant reductions in frontline provision.

The Scottish government said it had pledged to support frontline services.

The union warned the service could not withstand further cuts.

According to the FBU Scotland, some 1,134 full-time professionals have been lost from the service since 2006, while at the same time there had been a rise in fire fatalities.

As of March this year, Scotland had 7,650 employed uniformed staff and an additional 473 volunteers.

The union said further scrutiny had shown a reduction of 24.7% of full-time firefighters over the past four years, while the number of backroom staff had increased by 74%.

It also claimed almost 10% of retained duty system personnel - who provide fire and rescue cover in more rural areas - had been lost since 2006.

'Stripped to bone'

FBU Scottish secretary John Duffy said: "People are still losing their property, being injured or dying in fires and having less firefighters spread further apart is not helping that.

"Having less still can only make things worse. We have already seen services stripped to the bone, so going beyond where we are now will be dangerous both to the public and to our crews.

"Priority must be given to defending the provision of emergency response."

A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: "We will not know the overall Scottish budget until the UK government's comprehensive spending review in October.

"However, we can give an assurance that the draft Budget Bill in November will be focused on protecting frontline services - including the fire service - and economic recovery, as we deal with the spending cuts from Westminster."

Earlier this week, the union representing Scotland's police officers called for a summit to discuss planned spending cuts to the country's eight forces.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) warned the projected 9% drop in the policing budget was equivalent to losing 2,808 officers and called for the main parties to attend a special meeting before the next budget was fixed.

The Scottish government is due to publish its budget in November.

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