Fife fire cuts: fire crews demonstrate as senior officers brief councillors

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A controversial plan to remove the height Fire crews are set to stage a demonstration as their senior bosses arrive for a meeting with councillors to be questioned on controversial plans to make cuts to several stations in the region.

The Glenrothes crews are planning to be at Fife House, Fife Council’s headquarters, as senior officers prepare to attend a meeting of the People & Communities Scrutiny committee.

They are there to discuss the service’s annual report, but will face questions on plans to remove second or third appliances from stations in Glenrothes and Leven, and cut the height appliance from Kirkcaldy’s station - it will be covered from Dunfermline, a 24-minute journey away.

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The movies are said to be temporary as the service has to find £11m in savings, but councillors fear, that appliances removed won’t be restored.

Kirkcaldy Fire StationKirkcaldy Fire Station
Kirkcaldy Fire Station

The proposals have sparked a political backlash with specific concerns around the loss of the height appliance from Kirkcaldy - the town has a number of high rise tower blocks.

David Ross, leader of Fife Council has branded the cuts “outrageous” while councillors on Levenmouth’s area committee have registered their concerns, and this week saw more condemnation from another source - Kirkcaldy’s area committee.

Councillor Alistair Cameron (Kirkcaldy Central, Labour) described the proposal to remove the height appliance as “bizarre” while Councillor Ian Cameron, convener, branded it “absolutely unacceptable” and one that makes no sense.”

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Councillor Rod Kavanagh (Kirkcaldy East, SNP), called for the cuts to be cancelled altogether, arguing: “We have, and we need, to maintain this level of cover.”

Fife Council’s cabinet committee has already asked to see the data which led to the proposal.

The fire service has said public safety remains its top priority, and the proposals to cut appliances from ten stations across Scotland would have the least impact.

David Farries, director of service delivery, said: “These are second or third appliances, which can at times be unavailable for a number of reasons. When this is the case, we have to increase our use of overtime or bring firefighters from other stations to cover absences. This represents an unplanned disruption and ultimately comes at a cost to the service. We will always ensure the resources we have and our people are best placed to protect communities.”

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Mr Farries added: “We have identified ten stations where we can temporarily remove an appliance with the least impact. We are also reducing our fleet of vehicles that can operate at height, on a phased basis, taking ageing vehicles off the run and redeploying or introducing a series of modern, specialist vehicles dedicated specifically to dealing with such incidents”