Emergency calls in North of Scotland will be handled up to 140 miles away, fire chief reveals

Emergency calls to the fire service in the north of Scotland will be handled up to 140 miles away in Dundee from November, the country’s fire chief has announced.

Union safety call over fire service control centre

Union safety call over fire service control centre

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) revealed the latest stage of a merger that form part of a savings plan to cut control rooms across Scotland from eight to three, with facilities in Dumfries, Thornton in Fife and Maddiston in Falkirk already closed.

The fire service previously estimated moving to a single call-handling system in the remaining operations centres in Edinburgh, Dundee and Johnstone would save £2.3 million and cost 60 jobs.

Union chiefs for Scottish firefighters are seeking assurances that safety will not be compromised and that local knowledge will not be lost by calls from the north of Scotland being handled elsewhere.

The Aberdeen control room will shut on November 8 and the Inverness facility will cease taking calls on December 6, with calls for both areas then being answered in Dundee.

It is understood the closing control rooms will remain open, but not live, for 24 hours after their deadline dates so they can be reactivated if necessary.

Those who have chosen to remain in Inverness and Aberdeen will be offered new roles within the service.

Staff will undergo training and pool their knowledge of the risks and geography of each area, while systems will be improved to capture local knowledge, landmarks and “locally known as” addresses.

The move will see control staff from Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen merged in a new, state-of-the-art facility in Dundee by March.

Alasdair Hay, Chief Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, visited both Aberdeen and Inverness to address staff ahead of the migration.

“This major investment will without doubt further enhance our protection across the north of Scotland,” he said.

“We look forward to combining our capabilities from across Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness into this fantastic facility in Dundee.

“It can deploy our specialist resources not only from across the north – but from across the whole of Scotland – at times of significant emergency.”

He added: “This announcement is the culmination of a very great deal of planning and preparation – and the public can rest assure that there will be no change to the outstanding service that we provide, and we will continue to attend every 999 call ahead of the launch of our new operations control at Dundee in March.