Island voice against Fire Control Room closure

The Police and Fire Services Highlands and Islands Chairs Network is adding its voice to calls to retain the Fire Control Room in Inverness.

The group has been meeting in Lerwick yesterday (Thursday), discussing plans which would see the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service reduce the number of control rooms for the whole of Scotland to three, based in Johnstone, Edinburgh and Dundee.

A public meeting will be held in the County Hotel, Stornoway today (Friday) at 5pm for those who wish to help in the campaign against closure.

Speaking on behalf of the Chairs Network, which includes representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Orkney, Shetland and Highland Councils, SIC Councillor Alastair Cooper said: “We have several significant concerns about this move, which would see the service based in the central belt of Scotland. If this decision cannot be changed, our communities need reassurance on a number of issues. First and foremost, I have grave concerns that the loss of local knowledge of things like placenames could lead to the misdirection of services, which is potentially life-threatening. There are numerous placenames which are duplicated across the whole of the north of Scotland, and this could be a significant problem.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service also needs to convince us that the technology and communication systems which would be in place would be resilient, reliable and proven.

“It’s very difficult to understand why there are plans to retain control rooms in Dundee and Edinburgh, which in national terms are virtually next door to each other. Surely retaining the control room in Inverness would give better resilience for our communities to the north and west of Scotland.

“The Minister for Local Government, Derek Mackay, has said he would be willing to discuss this matter at his next ‘Our Islands Our Future’ meeting with isles’ leaders in Stornoway next month – I very much look forward to hearing the outcome of those talks.”