Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur today attended and welcomed the formal opening of new Scottish Fire and Rescue training facilities at Kirkwall Airport.
Delivery of the new facilities follows a sustained campaign by Orkney’s MSP and many others locally to persuade Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service of the need for more training to take place in Orkney to address recruitment and retention issues within the islands’ retained fire stations.
The new unit is a carbonaceous or “hot fire” facility that, along with training firefighters, will provide support spaces that include teaching rooms, a canteen, offices and changing facilities.
Speaking after the opening, which Mr McArthur attended, he said:
“One of the main obstacles to recruiting and retaining crew in retained fire stations in Orkney has been the travel and time involved in undertaking training. For many living in the smaller isles, this has simply not been compatible with other work and family commitments.
“Speaking to retained firefighters locally, I am aware that this new training facility is already making a difference by allowing more of the required training to take place closer to home, enabling more island residents to consider taking on these roles.
“I am therefore grateful the SFRS has been able to respond positivity to the calls that I and many others have been making over recent years. Further work still needs to be done to put our network of vitally important retained fire stations on a more stable footing. These new facilities, however, are a big step in the right direction.”