Fire statistics in Highland lowest for three years

 Issued by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service today revealed that fire statistics for the first quarter of the year in Highland are the lowest they have been for three years.  

The figures were presented to members at the meeting of the Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee this afternoon (30 September 2015) at Highland Council headquarters, Inverness. 

Group Manager for Highland and Islands, John MacDonald welcomed the reductions but insisted there is no room for complacency.  

He said: “These first quarter figures are certainly encouraging, but we will continue to work with partner agencies to minimise the risk to communities and improve safety and wellbeing.”  

In his report to the committee GM MacDonald highlighted a reduction in the number of house fires reported during the first quarter from 37 in 2014/15 down to 20 for the same period this year.  

Group Manager MacDonald commented: “Historically the first quarter of the year has seen a reduction in house fire numbers, however, the commitment and efforts of staff through the delivery of targeted Home Fire Safety Visits, as well as intelligence sharing with partner agencies, will be maintained to ensure we reduce the risk to the lowest possible level.”  

There were also reductions in the numbers of deliberate fires - 49 in 2014/15 compared to 46 during the first quarter of this year – and a reduction in the number of UFAS (Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals) – from 255 in 2014/15 down to 215 for the first quarter this year.  

Group Manager MacDonald said: “The new UFAS policy and procedure has been in place since December 2014 and initially we saw the increase we expected through increased reporting. We are now beginning to see the reduction the processes were designed to deliver.  

“This has been made possible due to the efforts of the service and its partnership work with the business community and duty holders to ensure appropriate legislative compliance and good management practices. This all contributes to the overall objective of safer firefighters and safer communities.”  

Group Manager MacDonald also updated members about the service’s recent RDS (retained duty system) recruitment phase, which finished recently.  

He said: “For the last round of RDS recruitment 71 applications were entered onto the system for vacancies across the Highland area.  

“These applications will now go through the recruitment process to assess their suitability for appointment to the role of firefighter.  

“We would encourage anyone else who feels they can devote some of their time to become a retained firefighter to get in touch with their local station. We rely on public support to provide fire cover across the region.  

“We also recognise the support from partner agencies in advertising our vacancies within their internal structures.”  

Chair of the Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee, Cllr Hamish Fraser welcomed the findings revealed in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Quarterly Report.  

He said: “These statistics are very encouraging and show a significant move in the right direction. It is reassuring to know that there are far fewer house fires over this period. However, one house fire is one too many and so the preventative work which the fire service do is immensely important and crucial to maintaining safety in communities.”  

He added: “Councillors had a very positive meeting with senior fire officers yesterday, 29 September, and it was exciting to hear about their future plans for preventative work, which we value so highly.”

This week Community Planning Partners (CPP) in Highland agreed unanimously to support the recruitment of retained firefighters.

Chair of the CPP Board and Leader of The Highland Council, Councillor Margaret Davidson said: “Resilient communities are dependent on having trained fire fighters available and accessible. We recognise the vital role that retained firefighters serve in keeping communities attractive as vibrant places to live, work and enjoy.

“This is a breakthrough achievement in that all our public sector partners in the Community Planning Partnership have signed up to support the recruitment of retained firefighters in our organisations. Each organisation will promote these opportunities to staff through internal vacancies and our staff communications. 

“We recognise the benefits in helping to fill these vacancies, as it supports the sharing of transferable skills, making our communities and our organisations safer, stronger and more resilient. We want to encourage everyone to consider if they can contribute to their communities in this very worthwhile way,” she added.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is encouraging men and women to apply in order to help protect the communities in which they live. Becoming a retained duty system (RDS) firefighter brings with it a tremendous sense of satisfaction and gives ordinary people an opportunity to do extraordinary work, helping protect communities from fire and saving lives and the environment.

Local Senior Officer (LSO) for Highland Scott Hay welcomed the commitment from partners. He said: “RDS firefighters are called upon to attend the same wide range of emergency service as whole time firefighters, including fires, floods, road traffic accidents, chemical spills and more.

“They can also be called upon to work with whole time firelighters to promote fire safety messages, giving fire safety advice to schools and other organisations as well as carrying out free home fire risk assessments within their communities.

“It is a very rewarding job and there are tangible benefits for employers who support and allow their staff to become RDS firefighters. Retained=retrained and employers will have a member of staff who will bring a host of transferrable skills.”

In return RDS firefighters are paid an annual retainer fee plus additional payments for every incident attended and time spent on all activity including training nights, community engagement and courses.

RDS firefighters come from diverse backgrounds and bring a variety of experiences to the role. A range of skills are required including being a team player, having excellent communication skills and displaying attention to detail.

You must be aged 18 years or over, have a good level of physical fitness, have the required standard of vision and colour perception and live or work within five to eight minutes of the fire station.

Applicants are requested to note the initial two-week training course, prior to submitting an application. Although recruitment is open periodically and is specifically targeted to those areas most in need you can speak to someone at your local fire station or visit to find out when the recruitment process opens once again.

You will need to demonstrate that you have the potential to carry out this challenging role through a rigorous recruitment process, full details of which are documented within the attached information pack, with further supplementary information provided on our website

30 Sep 2015