|Cllrs Donald Lothian and Tim Brett at Newburgh Fire Station|
Cllr Tim Brett, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Fife Council, has recently had a meeting with Iain Vincent, Lead Officer for the National Fire Service in Fife. This followed national concerns that had been raised by the Fire Brigades Union about the position of retained duty fire stations.
Cllr Brett explained that all the NE Fife fire stations are manned on the Retained Duty basis. The stations in Cupar and St Andrews each have two appliances while those in Anstruther, Auchtermuchty, Newburgh, St Monans and Tayport each have one. The Retained Officers relied on being able to fulfil their Fire Fighting duties by their substantive employer allowing them time to do so. This could be particularly challenging between the hours of 8.00am to 5.00pm.
According to Iain Vincent, Local Senior Officer – Fife, this is a problem that the fire service in Scotland is seeking to address.
Cllr Brett said that the fact that some Retained Officers cannot always be clear on their availability was of concern. He said, ‘I was however reassured by the information that Iain Vincent provided, as the situation is not getting any worse and the fire service are looking at innovative ways of trying to encourage the recruitment of more retained fire fighters and to improve on their availability.’
Cllr Margaret Kennedy, LibDem Spokesperson on Community Safety, added, ‘The Retained Service provides the backbone to our Fire Service amongst many communities and as such should hold a prominent position in terms of future service delivery of Fire and Rescue Scotland. I would value more clarity from the Fire and Rescue Authority as to how it intends to protect and sustain this vital service for the future. Locally it is clear to me how our Lead Officer and the FBU Reps value them, having discussed this subject with them on various occasions. It was particularly pleasing to note, however, that the station at Newburgh was the second best, in terms of availability, of any of the retained stations in Scotland.’
The retained fire fighters are also assisted by thirty regular fire fighters who take part in the retained service. Iain Vincent concluded the discussions with Cllr Brett by saying that this issue was being looked at nationally by the new National Fire Service and that he himself was a member of one of the groups involved with this.
Cllr Brett concluded it was good to have the opportunity of meeting Iain to discuss this as all of the communities in North East Fife rely on the dedication of their retained fire fighters. He concluded, ‘Whilst it is possible that the retained service can be backed up by the full time stations, either from other parts of Fife or from Dundee or Perth, it is good to know that every effort is made to try and ensure that the Retained Officers are available for as many hours a week as possible.’