Fire crews are back up to full strength

The Oban Times - - News -

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.

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