Alarm sounds over fateof town's fire station

An alarm has been sounded over the future of Scotland's retained fire stations, including the one in Kilsyth.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has stated that it must make savings in the near future and fears have been voiced that Lanarkshire might be stripped of many of its stations, most manned by part-time, retained firefighters.

The Fire Brigades Union Scotland claimed dozens of fire engines were already unusable because there are not enough crews to take them out and Scotland’s fire chief Alasdair Hay believes the service needs to be “transformed”.

He said: “On-call systems are under pressure. That tells me that model is unsustainable. We need to do something.”

Along with Kilsyth other stations which could be under threat across the county include Carluke, Lesmahagow and Douglas.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell, whose constituency covers part of Lanarkshire, was a prominent campaigner against Police Scotland axing rural stations and expressed his concerns fire stations could be next.

He said: “I am greatly concerned to hear of any planned cutbacks to fire stations and crew numbers and urgent clarification needs to be provided.

“As has been seen with the centralised Police Scotland, it has been rural communities which have been hit hardest by the closure of stations and my concern is that we would see something similar happening in terms of the fire service.

“All too often now when it comes to our emergency services, the protection of the public is an afterthought to how money can be saved. I hope that any proposals will protect our rural communities who simply shouldn’t be relying on emergency services based miles away from their home.

“Centralisation simply hasn’t served rural communities well at all and once again local people are left wondering if they will have access to an emergency service on their doorstep.”

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker raised a question at Holyrood last week asking the Scottish Government what its response was to the matter.

Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing assured MSPs the public would have their say on any planned changes to the fire service.

She said: “No decisions have been made on what the transformation would look like and the transformation process will involve liaison and discussion with staff, partners and the public.”