View Full Version : Plan in place for firemen's training

27-Feb-12, 13:51
Initiative will bring firefighters up to recognised national standards

A high level seminar involving the Highland and Islands Fire Board, senior staff from Highlands & Islands Fire & Rescue Service (HIFRS), the Fire Brigades Union, the Retained Firefighters Union (Scotland), the Fire Officers Association and senior officers from the HIFRS Peer Support Team was held today on Friday to analyse the key issue of risk to communities and firefighters in the area.
It was agreed at a very positive and productive seminar that a comprehensive plan will be put in place to ensure that all firefighters in the Highlands and Islands are given appropriate training to bring them up to recognised national standards. A recent meeting of the area’s Fire Board allocated an additional £1.1 million pounds to meet the costs of this training.
HIFRS has realigned its internal resources to enable the training plan to be effectively implemented and six other Scottish Fire and Rescue Services have also agreed to provide support. The initial phase of the training programme, which has already started, is expected to be completed by October this year.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Stewart Edgar said: “Our efforts are being concentrated on community and firefighter safety. This training programme will ensure that the firefighters across the region achieve the national standards, which will ensure that they provide the highest standard of emergency response services to the communities of the Highlands and Islands, and help make the Highlands and Islands a safer and better place to live, work and visit. We are very encouraged by the direction of travel and the engagement with the Board and our Trade Unions.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Mike Holme said “The diverse communities of the Highlands and Islands means that there is no “one size fits all” approach to decide if a station can be maintained. The future of our stations is dependent upon the partnership between the Service and individuals within the communities to support the Service and undertake the training to ensure community and firefighter safety. This partnership between our communities and the Service is key to making sure the people in our communities and our firefighters are kept as safe as possible, which is our top priority.”
Convener of the Board, Cllr Richard Durham, agreed that “the seminar had been very productive and gave the Board a clear strategy for dealing with the issues it currently faces and the need to improve recruitment and training within the Service. The Board and Service very much want to work in partnership with communities to develop a sustainable service which protects communities, provides a safe working environment for its fire fighters and retains sustainable stations across the Highlands and Islands. The Board continues to support the considerable work being undertaken by its officers, peer support team and other fire services”.
Calum MacNeill, Brigade Chair of the Fire Brigades Union said: "FBU officials are very encouraged by the assurances given regarding the removal of the threat of station closures or suspensions. We also welcome the strategic direction that the Board is now pursuing putting the focus firmly on the safety of our members & the communities they protect. It was extremely encouraging that several councillors called for greater inclusion of the FBU in future consultation meetings, and we look forward to greater co-operation moving forward."
Paul Taylor, Assistant National Officer, Retained Firefighters’ Union said: “The RFU is committed to firefighter safety and the safety of the communities that we serve.
I am encouraged by the positive attitude from HIFRS and the Fire Board and see this as an excellent opportunity to improve an already professional Fire & Rescue Service. We would encourage members of the community to become a Retained Duty System (RDS) firefighter within the community in which you live and work.”
Martin Haigh, Branch Chair, Fire Officers’ Association said: “Following a positive joint conference within the Council offices on 24th February, the Highlands and Islands Branch of the Fire Officers’ Association welcomed and supported the forward vision of the Fire Board and Principal Officers of HIFRS not to close any sustainable fire stations and to facilitate a comprehensive training programme to enhance crew and community safety.”
The Fire Board extends its good wishes to Chief Fire Officer Trevor Johnson for a speedy recovery and return to work.