THE SCOTTISH Fire and Rescue Service will embark on a new recruitment drive next week in an attempt to tackle a lack of retained firefighters in Shetland.
The service is currently 50 people short of its full complement, with a new three-week national recruitment campaign due to launch from Monday.
Earlier this year Shetland MSP Tavish Scott raised concerns over staffing levels in rural stations after crews from Lerwick and Scalloway had to attend a fire in an unoccupied house in Hillswick.
They were called out because the village’s station, located less than one mile away from the blaze, did not have enough staff available at the time to respond.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Shetland manager Myles Murray said the full complement of retained staff in the isles is 180, but just 130 firefighters were on the books at the moment.
Currently Lerwick and Sandwick are the only fully staffed stations, with Fetlar, for example, having only one retained firefighter in December.
The numbers vary across Shetland, however, with Unst having a 98.42 per cent availability for daytime cover between January and May, Murray said.
A three-week poster drive will now be launched in an effort to attract more firefighters to join stations in their communities across the isles.
“We do have difficultly in staffing fire appliances during the daytime as personnel travel outwith their communities to their priority employment,” Murray said, as many people were based during the working hours in Lerwick and Sullom Voe, for instance.
“We’re trying to address that by targeting people living and working within the local community who are available to respond to incidents, should they occur.”
Murray, who praised the dedication of those currently working as retained firefighters across the isles, said that while the role can often be difficult, it is “very rewarding”.
“There is satisfaction in knowing that they are helping people within their local communities during their time of need,” he said.
The job, which has a financial income, entails two weeks of training, as well as a breathing apparatus course.
Anyone interested to learn more about becoming a retained fire fighter in Shetland should contact Myles Murray at the Lerwick fire station on 01595 692318.