Firefighters regularly travelled from Aberdeenshire and Moray to cover shifts in Aberdeen last year with some occasionally brought in from Inverness and Dundee.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request tabled by the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed in there were 143 occasions in 2017/18 when staff from the Aberdeenshire and Moray area were on duty in Aberdeen.
They also found instances of firefighters travelling from Dundee on three occasions while five staff from Inverness were on duty in Aberdeen in August last year – a five hour round trip.
The figures were obtained by the Lib Dems following long-standing concerns about staffing in the north-east.
Last summer an anonymous whistleblower claimed some firefighters were being paid £330 for a single shift and being put up in Granite City hotels to cover the shortfall.
Last night the fire service said the situation had improved since then, but North East Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles claimed the fire service was under “real pressure” in the north east. “These figures show firefighters travelling over 100 miles to cover shifts, while staff are regularly being pulled into Aberdeen from the surrounding areas,” Mr Rumbles said.
“Nationwide more than 1,000 firefighters have been lost since the SNP’s merger. Budgets have fallen in real terms while ministers have been cavalier about where the almost £400m needed to maintain and invest in the service’s property, vehicles and equipment is going to come from.”
Mr Rumbles added: “Ministers must not allow the service in the north-east to become threadbare.”
The FOI data revealed during 2017/18 there were 143 occasions when firefighters from the Aberdeenshire Moray Local Senior Officer area based headquartered at Peterhead were on duty in Aberdeen.
A total of 159 officers were involved in covering on these occasions. On August 16 last year five people usually based in Inverness were on duty in Aberdeen. The following day an officer from Dundee was on duty in Aberdeen. The following day two officers from Dundee were covering in the Granite City. On August 24 and officer from Inverness helped cover in Aberdeen.
David Farries, Deputy Assistant Chief Officer for the North of Scotland for the fire service, said: “These figures represent a snapshot in time and we now have a much improved outlook in Aberdeen today. This is through extensive local efforts such as empowering management, recruiting and working with employee representative bodies.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The provision of fire and rescue resources is an operational matter for the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service.
“In 2019-20 we will increase the funding to SFRS by £5.5 million to invest in service transformation plans. This is on top of the £15.5 million additional spending power provided this year – a level of funding not matched anywhere else in the UK.”