Highlands and Islands fire inquiry ordered

The Scottish Government has commissioned HM Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Authorities to conduct an Inquiry into progress made by Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service in addressing recommendations made by the Accounts Commission.

a The Scottish Government has commissioned HM Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Authorities to conduct an Inquiry into progress made by Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service in addressing recommendations made by the Accounts Commission.

The Inquiry, by Steven Torrie, has been ordered by the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham, under Section 44 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.

A Best Value report, published by the Accounts Commission in March 2012, listed a number of serious concerns and highlighted an urgent need for Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service to establish an effective and sustainable service model which reflects the needs of the area.

While the Scottish Government is aware progress has been made to address these concerns, led by the Highlands and Islands Fire Board, Ministers have ordered the Inquiry to establish the extent of that progress and to identify what remains for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to address when it commences on 1 April, 2013.

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham said: “I know every firefighter working for the Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service is committed to doing the best job they can to protect people across the Highlands and Islands. Day in, day out, their work saves lives and keeps our communities safe.

“It is absolutely vital that proper structures are in place to maintain that safety.

“The Best Value report set out serious concerns across areas including staff training and risk management, which I know the Highlands and Islands Fire Board have been addressing through a Service Improvement Plan, with the help of colleagues from other services.

“Independent assessment of that progress, and any remaining priorities for action, will benefit all ahead of the launch of the single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service next year.

“This work will support the Board’s ongoing work to ensure our communities in the Highlands and Islands are served by a sustainable fire and rescue service, up to and beyond the introduction of the single service.”

The Chief Inspector has been instructed to provide a written report by December 21st. A copy of the report will be laid before the Scottish Parliament.

The commissioning letter can be read here:

at this website