SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott is calling for a parliamentary review into the closure of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service's Inverness control room after a series of hitches in the month since operations were moved to Dundee
Thirty days after the change, the decision to move the control room is under renewed scrutiny after a retired senior fire officer criticised what he described as a string of “potentially life-threatening” basic errors.
Ex-Highlands and Islands area manager Alec Kidd said at the weekend that he had been alerted to a dozen errors.
One of those saw a fire crew from Bressay called out to an incident in Yell because it “looked closer on the map” – despite there being several stations nearer – prompting Scott to call for the parliament and Audit Scotland to intervene.
“The new control system which has been centralised in Dundee clearly doesn’t work,” the MSP said on Monday.
“It cannot be right that fire crews here would be called to the wrong part of the islands. It doesn’t matter which part of the islands it was, the instructions were wrong, and that means the centralised system doesn’t work.
“That was exactly the criticism that senior fire officers made when these proposals were first mooted and as usual the government didn’t listen to them.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said decisions on how to allocate resources were a matter for the fire service board, but a “multi-million pound investment to replace old legacy systems will provide a greatly improved control infrastructure”.
“These changes will enhance the service, ensuring calls are handled more efficiently,” she said. “Local knowledge and expertise does not depend on the location of a building but on the professional experience of the staff supported by sophisticated systems and technology and the knowledge of the locally-based crews.”
When the Inverness control room closed, only two of its 19 staff were transferred to Dundee, with a handful of others to be redeployed and the remainder given redundancy or early retirement.
Scott is due to meet chief fire officer Alasdair Hay to discuss the concerns in more detail on Tuesday.