Martin Whitfield MSP has joined colleagues in raising the alarm at new statistics, released on Firefighters’ Memorial Day, which reveal the extent to which Scotland’s fire estate is “falling apart”.
In total, 39 out of 57 (68 per cent) of stations in the South Scotland region, which includes East Lothian, are assessed as being in “bad” or “poor” condition by the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS), with a total of 89 per cent assessed as being of “bad” or “poor” suitability.
Most shockingly, up to one in five stations in the region do not even have dedicated shower facilities despite the Fire Brigades Union raising concerns that firefighters are being unnecessarily exposed to carcinogenic fire particles for long periods of time, with no ability or spaces to properly decontaminate.
Tranent fire station, rated as “poor” for condition and “bad” for suitability, is among several identified by the SFRS as requiring remedial action.
Overall, across Scotland, 75 per cent of buildings in the fire estate are assessed as being of “bad” or “poor” suitability, and around 45 per cent are assessed as being in either “bad” or “poor” condition. Of the buildings where the age is known, 42 per cent are at least half a century old.
Last year the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also raised concerns about the fire estate, stating “Some of Scotland’s fire stations are no longer fit for purpose or meet the expectations and demands of a 21st century fire and rescue service”.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“On Firefighters’ Memorial Day, it is quite astounding to see the extent to which Scotland’s fire estate is suffering from neglect and falling apart.
“Firefighters, who work so hard to ensure the safety of people in our communities, need to be well equipped, well-resourced, well protected and well paid to do the job they do. However, these stats show that some stations do not even have basic bathroom or shower facilities, while some even lack a running water supply.
“This is not acceptable and puts firefighters, who are already exposed to dangerous fire contaminants in their day-to-day job, at further risk of developing cancers and other illnesses. The SNP-led Scottish Government has had 15 years to modernise the estate. The real terms cuts in that time do not occur in a vacuum – they affect response times to emergency incidents, putting the public at risk.
“These figures must be a wake-up call – it’s time to modernise Scotland’s crumbling fire estate.”