Staff employed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) will feel betrayed that they are set to spend months working out of portable cabins after the closure of their control rooms in the north of Scotland, it is claimed.
Those in Aberdeen and Inverness are set to close early next year, following controversial plans being approved in 2014. But it is still to be decided exactly when.
Their operations will be covered from a new co-ordinating centre in Dundee which is not ready, and is not expected to open till April. Rather than leaving the two northern control rooms working till it is ready, it has been confirmed staff will be housed in portable buildings in Dundee during the intervening period.
It is being stressed that these will be new high specification units, and not old or substandard structures.
But Orkney LibDem MSP Liam McArthur said:
“We were told that these centres are set to be replaced by a state of the art facility but now we learn fire service staff will be stacked up in portable cabins for months on end before the work to upgrade Dundee is finished.
“This is hardly what was promised. There seems to be no good reason to move staff from the existing control rooms in Aberdeen and Inverness until the new centre is complete and the systems are robust. The closure plans raised huge questions over loss of local knowledge and the Fire Service were quick to provide reassurances that there would be no impact on life saving services. Many people will feel betrayed by this announcement.”
However a SFRS spokesman said dates for the migration of the existing Aberdeen and Inverness control rooms had not been confirmed.
“The new north operational control is part of a multi-million pound investment that will ensure the continued safety of communities throughout Scotland. Whilst we finalise the new state-of-the-art control facility in Dundee, our teams will operate from specialised modular accommodation.
“This is part of our planned integration programme and will continue to provide full operational capability as we finalise our new facility. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service responds to every emergency 999 call and that will not change.”