Fire chiefs in Scotland have been heavily criticised after it was revealed almost 1,000 posts have been axed in three years. It is now feared that lives will be put at risk because of a lack of staff.

Figures from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service show 956 jobs have been cut since the service was merged into a single service in 2013. Of those, 667 were frontline firefighters with another 289 job losses coming from control or support roles.

The situation looks set to worsen as plans to close control rooms in north Scotland later this year are still on the table.

Chris McGlone, executive council member for the FBU in Scotland, said the figures were shocking, albeit unsurprising. “The Chief Officer needs to grasp the seriousness of the situation and quickly. We were told that the move to a single fire and rescue service would protect frontline outcomes and improve the service the public receive.

"Since then, we have seen a year on year erosion of front line control and firefighter numbers and a lack of urgency at the top of the organisation to address these losses. Experience tells us that it is the public who will ultimately pay the price.

“Although we welcome the recent commitment from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to commence recruitment, it will now take some considerable time before the shortfalls are dealt with and the safe crewing model agreed with the FBU can be fully supported.”

The FBU added that firefighter shortages are now hitting the frontline, with up to 6 wholetime fire engines per day being routinely removed from service due to a lack of available firefighters to crew them.