Fire service recruiting

The Scotland wide Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has been operating for almost a year now, and a new three year plan that lays out its priorities in the Borders is about to be approved.

Reporting to Berwickshire Area Forum last week John Mallin, group manager for the Borders, said: “The new service is a very positive thing for the Scottish Borders.

“We are looking to develop ward plans to go along with the Borders wide plan - the focus is on local needs.”

Setting the services priorities for the region - reducing dwelling fires, fire fatalities and casualties, deliberate fire setting, road traffic collisions and unwanted fire alarm signals - is one thing, but there is concern about the service’s ability to recruit retained fire and rescue personnel.

All three Berwickshire fire stations, at Duns, Coldstream and Eyemouth, rely on retained personnel rather than full time staff, and Mr Mallin admitted that this is an issue they are constantly having to deal with.

“People commute out of the towns now,” he said. “We can recruit them but their jobs change and they move away. We have an issue when one or two people leave at the same time.

“It takes quite a long time to train people before they can start, so we have lags in our staffing every now and again.

“We are constantly having to find innovative ways to recruit people. Anyone can be a firefighter (provided they can achieve the necessary fitness level) and we would like Area Forums and community councils to encourage people to become fire fighters.

“We have a massive commitment to keep the Borders safe.”