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Concern over ‘strain’ on services as north-east fire and rescue divisions to undergo merger

Councillor Martin Grieg outside North Anderson Drive Fire Station.
Councillor Martin Grieg outside North Anderson Drive Fire Station.

Concerns have been raised over a “strain” on fire and rescue services after it was revealed north-east divisions will merge in an attempt to provide an improved service.

Bosses of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) confirmed the merger of it north-east fire and rescue services – but said it will “not result” in the closure local stations.

In a letter, seen by the Press and Journal, the newly announced consolidation of the service across Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray is planned for June.

The move will result in the amalgamation of two separate service entities – Aberdeen City and the combined Aberdeenshire and Moray service.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief officer, Stuart Stevens, confirmed last night “there will be no fire station closures as a result of this merger”.

However, the move has provoked concern from some local councillors who worry about a drop off in the quality of the service.

Aberdeen councillor Martin Grieg said: “The city’s fire and rescue team is exceptionally dedicated and of high quality.

“But we don’t want to lose any of the local strength that has protected us so well from dangers due to fire related incidents.”

It is understood that Aberdeen City area commander, Bruce Farquharson, will hold the most senior position following the merger.

Cllr Jennifer Stewart said she felt sure Mr Farquharson would “expedite the roll well”, but feared the drawing together of two services into one could put fire and rescue teams “under greater strain”.

She added: “My concern is whether the service will be stretched and if you increase the area it will put a greater workload onto what is ultimately a service that keeps us safe.

“Although we’ve been told that no stations are closing in the short-term, it does make me worry that it might be on the agenda in future and whether all areas be covered effectively.”

Andrew Watt, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy assistant chief officer for the North of Scotland said: “A review within the North Service Delivery Area highlighted that there would be many benefits in combining the present Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire and Moray LSO Areas.

“This administrative and managerial change will bring us into line with the boundaries of our Local Resilience Partnership, police and NHS partners in the north east which will enhance our ability to meet the needs of local communities.

“This step will bring together our existing Community Action Teams who carry out prevention work to keep residents safe as well as our existing training teams to support firefighters in maintaining their skills.

“It will also support better succession planning for our staff and provide them with wider opportunities for development across the north-east of Scotland.

“There will be no change to our service delivery model and we will continue to respond to every emergency.”

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