Thank you for getting in touch about cuts to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Scottish Labour has grave concern regarding cuts to the fire service, which will risk making both workers and the wider public less safe. My colleague Katy Clark MSP, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Community Safety, has raised this issue with the Minister for Community Safety in the Scottish Parliament. Cutting secondary and third appliances could risk fire and rescue coverage for local communities and put both public and firefighter lives at risk. In a year when we have already mourned the tragic loss of firefighter Barry Martin in Edinburgh, the risks faced by firefighters must be forefront in our minds.
Katy Clark’s office has also uncovered via FOI that 75% of buildings in Scotland’s fire estate are assessed as being of “bad” or “poor” suitability, and around 45% of are assessed as being in either “bad” or “poor” condition. This work also found that a third lack dedicated showers and four have no running water. It is simply unacceptable to expect our firefighters to operate in these worsening conditions with dwindling resources when they do a job of such importance. From 2012-13 to last year, almost 1,100 firefighter jobs were cut across all uniformed posts in Scotland – almost 15 per cent of the total workforce, and part of the resulting staffing crisis is that people increasingly do not see it as a safe profession for pay and conditions or in terms of capacity to do the job.
I and my colleagues will continue to campaign against the cuts to the conditions and the capacity of our fire and rescue workers. If we are to keep our communities safe, we must protect the frontline services we entrust to look after them.