There will be no fire station closures in Dundee despite falling firefighter numbers across the country, managers have promised.
The pledge came after Dundee was hit by three major fires in as many days including a farm at Strathmartine, Braeview Academy and Hilltown Indoor Market, with city fire crews working at full capacity and borrowing additional resources from surrounding areas.
However, it is likely fire and ambulance crews will increasingly share facilities in a bid to save money.
In an exclusive interview with the Courier, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service depute chief officer Iain Bushell reiterated promises that the city’s four stations on Macalpine Road, Blackness Road, Kingsway East and Balmossie in Broughty Ferry would remain open.
There had been fears some of Dundee’s facilities and resources could be under threat after documents sent to senior staff had suggested the current staffing model was unsustainable and any cuts would predominantly be in urban locations.
Mr Bushell said: “The chief officer himself has given the commitment that there are no station closures that are going to happen in Dundee.
“In fact recently what we have done is bring more resources into the Dundee area and specifically into Balmossie, because we are now sharing that facility with the Scottish Ambulance Service.
“So not only are we providing a better service for that area of Dundee, but we’re also saving taxpayers money by combining services and sharing facilities. It’s something that we are looking to do more and more in the future.”
Falling firefighter numbers were attributed to an ageing staff force, with retirements bringing down the head count.
Between 140 to 160 firefighters across Scotland retire each year. Recruitment drives are in place to attract young people, as well as women and ethnic minorities.
Those were reported to be going well, although bosses admitted that there were still “challenges”.
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There have been 4,000 applications, with 299 people hired over the past year across Scotland.
Addressing the audience at the organisation’s annual performance review in Dundee this week, Kirsty Darwent, chair of the SFRS board, said: “I can absolutely assure you that although the numbers (of operational firefighters) have decreased, safety of the people of Scotland is absolute priority”.
Alasdair Hay, SFRC chief officer, added: “Despite some of the challenges, we are still fulfilling our duties.”