Full consultations pledge on fire station sustainability

HIGHLAND and Islands Fire Board has assured the public that it will be fully consulted on the future of fire stations, recognising that fire fighters need the necessary training to secure their own safety and provide their communities with safe cover.
At its meeting in Inverness on Friday, Board members acknowledged a report from their Chief Fire Officer, which highlighted the lack of cover and appropriate training competence at some fire stations across the board area.
But they emphasised their commitment to their local communities and their desire for training and recruitment to be put in place as quickly as possible to ensure the future of the fire stations. The Board is to invite Representative Bodies (including the Fire Brigades Union and Retained Firefighters Union) to a seminar being held in Inverness on Friday 24 February to discuss the criteria against which the Board can assess the sustainability of stations.
A special meeting of the full Fire Board will be held on Friday 2 March to further consider the criteria.
Board Chairman Councillor Richard Durham, The Highland Council, said: “I fully appreciate the importance that local communities attach to their local fire team. This was very clearly voiced at our meeting. I can assure the public that no fire station will close without the decision of the Fire Board, following full consideration and consultation. At this stage, there is no question of this. The Chief Fire Officer has rightly highlighted the risks that the Service and the Board face as a result a lack of appropriate cover and training competence in some of our stations and we must heed this advice. The right to suspend the operational activity of stations which present an unacceptable risk must lie with him."
Councillor Durham added: “Over the coming two weeks we will be focusing on how we tackle the challenges of training and recruitment and the criteria surrounding making our fire stations sustainable so that we have adequate fire cover in our communities.”
The Chief Fire Officer was asked to present a detailed training programme, with costs, to the special meeting of the Fire Board on 2 March.