Duns and Eyemouth retained fire service still undermanned

Fire and rescue services in Duns and Eyemouth have had to be covered by services from Edinburgh or Berwick because of a shortage of retained crew numbers.

Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for Community Safety, Councillor Donald Moffat told Berwickshire Area Forum last week that there had been times when the Duns and Eyemouth fire stations had been undermanned at the same time but stressed that at no time was the area at risk as alternative arrangements were made with other fire stations.

Duns fire station has two potential crew members currently undergoing training which will leave them still one crew member short. In Eyemouth there are three vacancies that have still to be filled.

Councillor Moffat added that difficulties in recruiting retained fire and rescue personnel is not unique to Berwickshire and the Borders.

“A report is being made on this at a national level by the national retained fire service scrutiny group” said Councillor Moffat.

“They are looking at this problem which is even worse in the Highlands.”

What is being looked at is what is required from retained fire and rescue personnel nowadays, whether the pay reflects this and how to persuade employers that having staff who are also retained fire personnel can be a positive, not a negative thing.

Lammermuir Community Council chairman Mark Rowley suggested that some kind of public recognition for employers who support their staff being part of the retained fire service crew - perhaps a sign at their premises which indicates their community support by agreeing to their staff being available to answer 999 call-outs. Councillor Moffat agreed to look at that.