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MSP receives assurances over fire control situation

| Written by Shetland News

SFRS chief fire officer Alisdair Gray met with Shetland MSP Tavish Scott on Tuesday. SFRS chief fire officer Alisdair Gray met with Shetland MSP Tavish Scott on Tuesday. SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott says he has received assurances from Scotland’s chief fire officer over the call handling process in emergencies.

The handling of call-outs in the Highlands and Islands moved from Inverness to Dundee just over a month ago amid warnings about the loss of geographical knowledge.

Scott expressed concern after learning that a fire crew from Bressay were initially despatched to tackle an incident in Yell despite there being several stations closer to the North Isle.

After meeting the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) chief officer Alasdair Hay to discuss problems facing the service in Shetland, Scott said he was pleased by the commitments offered.

“The Dundee control room for 999 emergency call-outs must work for all of us,” the MSP said.

“I discussed the detail of what went wrong with the recent incident involving Yell and Bressay. It is reassuring that the local fire crews in both islands immediately spotted the technical mistake.

“The problem was rectified and fire appliances were sent to the right destination on the right island. I sought an assurance that this shouldn’t happen again and I was pleased by the chief fire officer’s commitment to that.”

A newspaper report at the weekend also contained an unverified claim that appliances in the Northern Isles and elsewhere had not been maintained in recent months.

But Hay assured Scott that “equipment in Shetland is being maintained to the proper standard and more often than is set down in fire regulations”.

He added that he would meet Hay again in April to review progress on the operation of control rooms, and Scott looks forward to “continuing a sensible dialogue about this essential part of the islands’ emergency cover”.

Hay described it as a "very positive meeting" and said he had offered assurances on the "robust capability" of its control operations and staff members' "unstinting professionalism and dedication as we move ever closer to a more enhanced and resilient service".

“We also provided him with further assurance that, following a full investigation into the unverified claims, we are satisfied that we deployed the correct resource on each occasion," he said.

“I very much look forward to meeting with Tavish once again in April to update him on our control room operations and Shetland’s fire service as we continue to move forward."

Hay added: “I would like to take this opportunity to assure those communities that we have been working exceptionally hard to ensure a seamless transition and that we will continue to stand on the front line, attending every 999 call.”

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