Anyone who receives, requests or is affected by our services can make a complaint to us. This also includes the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. For example, a relative, friend, advocate, or adviser.
If you are making a complaint on someone else’s behalf, you will need their written consent.
What can I complain about?
You can complain about things like:
failure or refusal to provide a service
inadequate quality or standard of service
an unreasonable delay in providing a service
dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on the individual
failure to correctly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering services
failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
unacceptable conduct, treatment, or attitude of a member of staff or contractor. (except where there are arrangements in place for the contractor to handle the complaint themselves)
disagreement with a decision (except where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision, or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector)
What can't I complain about?
There are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure.
a routine first-time request for a service
a request for compensation only
issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal (if you decide to take legal action, you should let us know, as the complaint cannot then be considered under this process)
disagreement with a decision where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision (such as for Freedom of Information and Subject Access Requests) or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector
a grievance by a staff member or a grievance relating to employment or staff recruitment
an internal concern raised by a member of staff (which was not about a service they received, such as a whistleblowing concern)
a concern about a child or an adult’s safety
an attempt to reopen a concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision
abuse or unsubstantiated allegations about our organisation or staff where such actions would be covered by our Acceptable Use Policy or Code of Conduct
a concern about the actions or service of a different organisation, where we have no involvement in the issue (except where the other organisation is delivering services on our behalf)
If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.
How long do I have to make a complaint?
Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of:
the event you want to complain about
finding out that you have a reason to complain
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
Our complaints process
We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint. Our complaints procedure has two stages which are frontline response and investigation.
Stage 1 – Frontline Response
We aim to respond to complaints quickly. This could mean an:
on-the-spot apology and explanation
immediate action to resolve the problem
We will give you our decision at Stage 1 in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Requesting a complaint be considered for Stage 2
If you are not satisfied with the response we give at this stage, we will tell you what you can do next. If you choose to, you can take your complaint to Stage 2. You must normally ask us to consider your complaint at Stage 2 either:
within six months of the event you want to complain about or finding out that you have a reason to complain; or
within two months of receiving your Stage 1 response (if this is later).
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a Stage 2 complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
Stage 2 – Investigation
Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint:
where the customer remains dissatisfied after Stage 1
those that require investigation and so are handled directly at this stage
If you do not wish your complaint to be handled at Stage 1, you can ask us to handle it at Stage 2 instead.
When using Stage 2 we will:
acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days
confirm our understanding of the complaint we will investigate and what outcome you are looking for
try to resolve your complaint where we can (in some cases, we may suggest using an alternative complaint resolution approach, such as mediation)
where we cannot resolve your complaint, we will give you a full response as soon as possible, normally within 20 working days.
If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you. We will tell you our revised time limits and keep you updated on progress.
If you are still not happy
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) are an independent organisation that investigates complaints.
You can ask the SPSO to look at your complaint if:
you have gone all the way through SFRS’s complaints handling procedure
it is less than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to complain about
the matter has not been (and is not being) considered in court
The SPSO will ask you to fill in a complaint form and provide a copy of our final response to your complaint. You can do this through their website, https://www.spso.org.uk/spso or call them on freephone 0800 377 7330.
You may wish to get independent support or advocacy to help you progress your complaint.
The SPSO’s contact details are:
Post or in person
SPSO Bridgeside House 99 McDonald Road Edinburgh EH7 4NS
If you would like to visit in person, you must make an appointment first.
If you would like to request a Freepost envelope from SPSO, details can be found on their website.
We understand that you may be unable or reluctant to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.
You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance:
or check your phone book for your local citizens advice bureau.
We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community. We will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help you access and use our services. If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or want this information in another language or format such as large font or Braille, please let us know.