Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur today held further talks in parliament with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service about efforts to address problems with recruitment and retention of fire crews in the islands.
Mr McArthur met Fraser Burr, SFRS Area Manager for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles and sought an update on the steps being taken by the service to ensure retained fire stations have sufficient crew members. There was also a discussion about the planned upgrade of training facilities at Kirkwall airport, which are due to be completed by the autumn this year.
Commenting after the meeting, Mr McArthur said:
“Retained fire stations are crucial to keeping our island communities safe. Unfortunately, recruiting and retaining sufficient crew members has presented problems for a number of stations over the years.
“One of the biggest disincentives has been the need to undertake training out with Orkney on a regular basis. For those with other work and family commitments, this is not always easy or even possible. I warmly welcome, therefore, the decision by SFRS to invest in upgrading the training facilities here in Orkney. Hopefully this will make a big difference and allow more people in each of our island communities to take on roles within the fire service.
“It was also interesting to hear Mr Burr set out plans for engaging with young people in Orkney and giving them a taste of what is involved in being a fire fighter. The option of creating volunteering opportunities, for example, is being considered and again this is a positive move.
“Making sure our retained fire stations are sustainable must continue to be a priority for the SFRS. This will involve continued close working with the communities themselves and I am determined to ensure that this happens”.