Enhanced service is planned by fire chief

Peter H. Lothian and borders Fire Brigade local senior officer for mid /east lothain and the borders.
Peter H. Lothian and borders Fire Brigade local senior officer for mid /east lothain and the borders.

The Borders’ new senior fire officer says a single national organisation will improve the region’s service.

But Peter Heath, a former station commander in Berwickshire, has admitted that he faces making cuts, with £300million having to be slashed from the Scottish service’s budget in the next 15 years.

While the 45-year-old, who lives in Innerleithen, would not speculate on where future savings will be made, he says overlapping services with agencies such as the police is one possibility.

Mr Heath, who also has responsibility for Mid and East Lothian, said: “There is a reduction in the budget across Scotland and that means I will have to take my share of that cut.

“But in the local action plan we will look at how and why we do what we do, and if there are options to do things in ­different ways.

“I have already spoken to Jeanette McDiarmid, new local police commander for the Borders, and it may be that we work closer together with partner agencies. You could have a house where four or five agencies enter in the same week. Could it be that a social worker who is in the house checks for trip hazards and passes on that information at the same time? We have to consider these options. Not only will I be looking to continue the fantastic service in the Borders, but also strengthen it.”

Having worked alongside Scotland’s new chief officer Alasdair Hay on the reforms, he is confident Borderers will not notice a difference.

Mr Heath added: “Having seen the discussions and decisions made, I am pleased to say that the service delivered in the Borders will continue to be at a high level. Problems in Edinburgh are different from those in the Borders and we can now look at what is relevant for both areas. Ultimately, if someone from Berwickshire calls 999 they will still get an emergency response from the fire service.”

Priorities for Mr Heath include reducing fires in the home and cutting the number of road deaths.