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Fire service exploring new response model

| Written by Chris Cope

NEW technology is being explored which could tackle the problem of fire appliances being unable to attend incidents because they did not have enough available crew.

A number of callouts in Shetland in recent years have seen fire fighters nearest the incident unable to respond as the station couldn't muster the minimum number of staff, leading to concerns over recruitment.

Local senior officer Fraser Burr told Thursday's community safety and resilience board that the fire service is currently looking at technology, which could combat the problem.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was however unable to give further details when asked by Shetland News.

At present, four members of staff need to be present to allow a fire appliance to deployed.

"Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is actively looking at new technologies which may see change in that in the not too distant future," Burr told the meeting.

He added that recruitment on smaller islands such as Fetlar, where help had to be sourced recently from neighbouring islands Unst and Yell to attend to a house fire, remains a problem.

"We are definitely looking at a different response model that may impact positively on places like Fetlar," Burr added.

He also praised retained fire fighters for encouraging people to put themselves forward for roles.

"We would hope that members of the council will also support us and encourage members of the community to step up," he said.

Committee vice chairman Allison Duncan asked whether amalgamating fire stations in the isles is still on the agenda, in an age of restricted budgets.

"We're open to all suggestions," Burr said. "We've previously talked about perhaps Bixter and Walls coming together."

The local fire service is also encouraging more people to take up the offer of free home safety visits, which see officers give advice and check or install smoke detectors.

Burr said: "It is imperative that we continue to reach out to people to offer our help and guidance on how best to stay safe at home. This is particularly important for the most vulnerable members of our communities.

"Our free home fire safety visits are a key part of our preventative work and we would encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch and find out more."

To arrange a visit, contact 0800 073 1999, text 'FIRE' to 80800 or fill in a form at www.firescotland.gov.uk

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