Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is continuing its investment programme in the North Service Delivery Area with the announcement today of new training facilities for the Western Isles.
This significant investment includes plans to renovate Stornoway Fire Station and provide improved facilities for crews and enhance teaching facilities for trainees.
The service is also in discussions with HIAL (Highlands and Islands Airports Limited) about housing a new, state-of-the-art carbonaceous fire behaviour training unit at Stornoway Airport, which would benefit crews across Western Isles as well as HIAL fire crews.
The upgrade to the Stornoway station is also set to provide community facilities that can be accessed by members of the public.
SFRS’s Local Senior Officer for Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, Billy Wilson said: “We have had productive discussions with HIAL in relation to the introduction of the training unit at the airport. It will represent an invaluable asset.
“At present, local firefighters must travel to Invergordon for training, but this announcement means we will now be able to deliver it in the Western Isles.
“The exact amount of investment will not be known until a full site assessment is concluded and we ensure our needs are fully considered and incorporated into the final plans.”
Assistant Chief Officer and Director of Service Delivery in the north, Robert Scott, said: “The investments being made in the Western Isles will deliver tangible benefits in terms of firefighter safety.
“I would also hope that the facilities will encourage members of the community, previously put off by the requirement to regularly leave the islands for training, to reconsider joining their local unit and help protect the communities in which they live.”
This is the second major investment announcement in the north by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in a month and follows the unveiling recently of the £300,000 upgrade to the Asset Resource Centre in Inverness, which is also in line for at least a further £250,000 worth of investment and the introduction of an apprentice scheme in the Highland capital.
Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said: “The communities of Scotland rightly expect equal access to high quality local fire and rescue services and resources, irrespective of their location. Through opportunities to reinvest, allied with the stronger links we are creating with each local authority and our community planning partners, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is much better placed to meet these expectations.
“Our commitment to improving the facilities at Stornoway Community Fire Station and our partnership initiative with HIAL is therefore tangible evidence of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service delivering the benefits of a national service, whilst maintaining a strong focus on our aims to improve the safety of our communities and staff, and improve outcomes through partnership working.”
SFRS Board Chairman Pat Watters said: “This investment by the SFRS Board in the North Service Delivery area is another excellent example of our intention to ensure capital investment across the service and provide equitable access to high quality services to support the delivery of our community safety and firefighter safety strategies across Scotland.
“The availability of training facilities on the Western Isles also supports our commitment to delivering value for money, in that staff will no longer have to travel to attend training courses.”