Firefighters' union leader warns of service in crisis

SCOTLAND'S chief fire officer will be told this week that his service is in crisis with firefighters feeling "undervalued, under paid" and "under huge stress", and that because of cutbacks fire engines are sitting idle and unable to protect communities.

Alasdair Hay will be challenged by Fire Brigades Union (FBU) official Chris McGlone when they both appear at Holyrood's justice committee as part of a review into the merger of Scotland's fire services in 2013.

McGlone will say the shake-up has led to "demotivated and demoralised" firefighters on different rates of pay across the country.

Claims that public safety is being compromised with fire engines left idle due to a lack of funding will also be raised by McGlone, who is the FBU's most senior Scottish official.

Areas such as Aberdeen and the Borders are being left with less emergency cover, including river rescue services, than cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, the union says.

The FBU also said firefighters in northern Scotland and the Borders are paid up to £1,000 less than their colleagues in Scotland's Central Belt.

McGlone claims the service suffers from "demotivated and demoralised staff who have become increasingly detached" and who feel "undervalued, under paid and in many areas of the organisation over worked and under huge stress."

Adding: "Operational fire engines sit idle in stations across the service, unavailable to protect the local communities they are there to serve."

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As the minister for community safety made clear when addressing the Scottish Fire Symposium this week, the work of firefighters across the country is absolutely invaluable in keeping our communities safe."

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman added: "Our resource budget – from which we pay our personnel and operational costs – has had a real terms cut of £2.6million this year alone so it is imperative that we now look at new and efficient ways to deliver our service."