UHI Shetland - Open the door to your future
Wednesday 19 June 2024
 10.9°C   SW Fresh Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Emergency services / Councillor wants ‘urgent action’ on upgrading some local fire stations

Community safety and resilience board chairman Allison Duncan said some firefighters are working in ‘atrocious conditions’ and has threatened to raise the issue with the Health and Safety Executive

The fire station in Bressay.

THE CHAIRMAN of Shetland’s community safety and resilience board says the facilities and condition of three local fire stations are “atrocious” – and placed the blame on senior management down south.

Speaking at a meeting of the board on Wednesday, councillor Allison Duncan criticised the facilities at the Walls, Bressay and Hillswick stations.

He said he was not impressed by a lack of shower and toilet facilities, although some Portaloos have been provided.

Duncan – who is keen to visit all stations in Shetland – also raised issues such as “inadequate” heating, insulation and storage, as well as “bird infestation” and some asbestos cladding.

Allison ‘Flea’ Duncan. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

He also raised concern about the risk of contamination.

The Shetland South councillor said MSP Beatrice Wishart and MP Alistair Carmichael are aware of the situation and had recently undertaken an unannounced visit to the Walls station.

“They were not impressed,” he said.

Duncan also raised concern at the lack of upgrades at the stations given he understood an audit of estate was carried out in the past.

“I find this situation very disturbing,” he said, “having our community fire fighters who work under such atrocious conditions”.

Duncan said if there was no “positive outcome” on the matter before the board’s next meeting in late August then he may refer the issue to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

“I expect very urgent action,” the councillor said.

Duncan stressed that Shetland management and staff were “totally exonerated” from his comments and instead focused his blame on senior Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) chiefs, who “should be ashamed of themselves”.

He said local management have undertaken “extensive efforts” to try to resolve the issues.

With no women fire fighters at any of the three stations, Duncan also said in his view the current facilities would be a “detriment to female recruitment”.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

 

It comes as the SFRS undertakes consultation on the future of the service, with estate a key part of the thinking.

The Hillswick fire station.

A Shaping Our Future Service consultation document admitted that many of SFRS’ buildings are no longer fit for purpose and require urgent action.

But it said its capital funding from the Scottish Government has remained the same at £32.5 million for the last seven years.

“We have received an additional £10 million for 24/25 but as a minimum we need at least £60 million each year to bring our buildings and equipment up to standard,” the document added.

“We are also spending more money on repairs as the condition and suitability of our estate continues to deteriorate.”

Commenting after the meeting, Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart said that seeing the reality of the “conditions some of our firefighters have to deal with in terms of their station and lack of basic facilities was quite an eye-opener”.

“Firefighters need to be ready for anything that is thrown at them, but some of our fire stations are lacking in basic facilities forcing some to go home to get changed between jobs,” she said.

“Some of Shetland’s fire stations need immediate upgrades to provide basic facilities.

“To carry on the way things are is a danger to firefighters and their families.”

In response, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy assistant chief officer Stephen Wood said: “We continually review our facilities and resources to ensure we can deliver the highest standard of emergency service.

“This includes a recent investment of up to £1 million in new, modern fire appliances and equipment throughout Shetland.

“We have been clear that some of our ageing buildings in Shetland and across Scotland are no longer fit for purpose and require action.

“We also must ensure that we have the correct resources in locations which meet the needs of communities.

“We are currently running an online survey to gather the views of the public which will help to develop options for public consultation later this year.”

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.

 

Newsletters

Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.