Council welcomes performance report by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
Highland Council today considered the Annual Performance Report from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Formal scrutiny of SFRS performance is a statutory duty for the Council under the Police and Fire Reform Act. The Council considered a detailed report which provided performance data with regards accidental dwelling fires, deliberate fires and unwanted fire alarm signals. Local Senior Officer Rab Middlemiss also provided an update for Councillors on the service’s transformation agenda including the introduction of new rapid response vehicles, a reduction in the number of crew required on fire vehicles and full time rural officer posts.
Scrutiny Lead Matthew Reiss said “I warmly welcome the Annual Performance Report from the Scottish Fore and Rescue Service and the opportunity for Councillors to scrutinise the performance of the service across Highland. I am delighted with the real progress the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has made compared to three years ago. These simple common sense improvements will improve safety and it is better that three firefighters attend to a chimney fire and extinguish it promptly rather than wait, perhaps a long time, for a four crewed tender to arrive from somewhere else, by which time the fire may have spread into the roof space.
“SFRS has taken a pragmatic approach, realising that “one size does not fit all” and listening to community concerns. I am very pleased with the new vehicles and what seems to me a refreshing “can do” attitude that is increasingly evident in Highland.”
Councillors were also provided with details of the findings of an HMFSI Local Area Inspection.
Cllr Reiss stated “I welcome the publication on 23 August of the HMFSI Inspection report for Highland. The report highlights the commitment and knowledge of SFRS staff in Highland and the very high regard in which they are held by the public and other local agencies. I am very pleased that the report has acknowledged the extremely positive relationships with SFRS staff, the strong commitment to partnership working in Highland and the crucial role SFRS personnel play in that.
“I am encouraged that the issue of recruitment and availability of RDS (Retained Duty Service) crews has been highlighted in the report. This is an area in which this Council has previously highlighted concerns. The work the previous and new Local Senior Officer and his team have done to adopt new approaches and options has rightly been welcomed in the report. I hope that the moves to introduce smaller more manoeuvrable vehicles requiring lower crew numbers will improve crew availability in the future.
“As with all inspection reports, areas for improvement have been identified, but I have great confidence in our local teams to implement these actions. However, I think bearing in mind that the majority of our SFRS crews are part-time volunteers (RDS) it is important that every effort is made to improve internet connectivity and reduce unnecessary paperwork for staff.