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Briefing to be held to discuss Fair Isle observatory blaze

A multi-agency meeting is set to be held to discuss the Fair Isle Bird Observatory fire and focus on any lessons which can be learned.

The session next month is expected to include the fire service, police, the coastguard and the RNLI, as well as Shetland Islands Council and inter-island flight operator Airtask.

The world-renowned building burnt down in March and firefighters from the Shetland mainland were transported by coastguard helicopter and lifeboat to support the local crew on the remote island.

The blaze, which started in the roof area, spread so quickly that there was little firefighters could do to stop the building being destroyed. No injuries were sustained.

Fair Isle’s fire engine also developed a mechanical fault and was out of action after the incident, with a replacement four-wheel drive appliance only getting shipped in a few weeks later.

The trust which runs the observatory wants to see the building rebuilt with insurance money and plans are progressing.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Shetland group manager Matt Mason said the multi-agency debrief will include all those who participated in the incident and will “talk through the learnings” gained from the response to the fire.

He added: “Once we have our debrief we’ll be able to understand a really full picture.

“Of course, from any incident, you identify the things that went really, really well, and those that maybe need some improvement.

“That’s the same for any incident – and certainly one as dynamic and large scale as the observatory fire, there’s always going to be things that we learn from those types of incidents. We’ll be better informed after our debrief.”

Mr Mason said there was adequate fire cover in place from when the old Fair Isle appliance was taken out of action to the new one arriving.

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