More than 700 fire staff members are currently self-isolating as Covid continues to put a strain on staffing levels across the country.
The rapid spread of Omicron has put additional pressure on the workforce according to union bosses, although cases within the service have remained relatively low throughout the pandemic.
Information obtained by the Press and Journal has revealed there were a total of 710 Covid-related absences recorded at stations across the country on January 10.
It presents the overall number of people employed by the service who have been asked to self-isolate after they received a Covid diagnosis or were identified as close contacts.
The figure accounts for 9.4% of the fire workforce in Scotland and includes both operational and support staff.
It comes just days after hundreds of police officers were deployed to local police divisions across the country to prevent staff shortages due to Covid.
However, fire deputy chief officer Ross Haggart reassured residents there are “robust” plans in place to ensure the service can continue to respond to emergencies.
He said: “The safety of our staff and the communities we serve is our highest priority.
“Like many other public services, we are inevitably seeing a rise in Covid-related cases, however, we have established protocols and robust contingency plans in place to support our staff, help minimise the risks and ensure we can continue to respond to emergencies.”
Covid impact on staffing levels in Aberdeen increases
In the north and north-east, there have been several occasions recently – specifically in Aberdeen – where the service has struggled to find cover for fire engines due to Covid-related absences.
Fire Brigades Union chairman for north Scotland, Simon Leroux, said the impact of Covid was only accelerated over the festive period as PCR test results were taking longer due to the bank holidays.
He said: “While the service has handled it very good, Covid still had a big impact. And the main issue has been limiting the number of staff on appliances.
“When the pandemic started, the number of people affected was really small, but as the new variant spread like a wildfire, we’ve seen a fair amount of staff having to self-isolate – specifically in the Aberdeen area.
“At the beginning of last week, we had at least one, possibly two, out of six fire engines, which were unavailable for several days because we didn’t have cover for them.
“It’s been a testing time for all of us, but of course the safety and wellbeing of our staff is paramount, so we’ve been following protocol on the back of what the first minister says.
“It’s difficult to do, but call-outs haven’t changed because of the pandemic. A fire is a fire, and we need to be at the station ready to respond.”