Fire crews are back up to full strength
OBAN’S full-time fire crew is back up to strength, officials say, after reports that it had to rely on retained firefighters to respond to an emergency.
Oban Community Council’s George Berry told the April meeting he was made aware of a call- out where full-time firefighters had to pull in a retained firefighter to crew an appliance. ‘The full-time should have full coverage,’ he said.
Oban Community Fire Station manager Derek Wilson and John McShane, service delivery manager for Argyll and Bute Council, reassured community councillors there would always be a 24-hour, seven- day emergency response.
Mr McShane said a minimum number of five firefighters were needed to send an engine to an emergency. ‘We would never put an appliance out the door without five, and we have never not been able to put out an appliance,’ he said. ‘It will always be available 24/ 7. We always find a solution and make sure an appliance gets out the door.’ Oban fire station, Mr Wilson added, ‘has six on the watch so we can guarantee that 24/ 7 cover. We can move personnel between stations. But at Oban we do not have that luxury, because the nearest full-time station is two hours away in Helensburgh. ‘The incident where we had to bring in a retained firefighter is very rare. That was because we had long-term sickness which reduced the watch from six to five, and then we had short-term sickness reducing it from five to four. We used one of our 14 retained staff. We are through that and we have filled those gaps. [ We have] pushed our numbers right up to our maximum number of six per group.’ Mr McShane further assured that ‘retained staff are trained with the exact same skill sets as full-time staff’, and that the chief officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had made a commitment not to close any stations.