Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will deliver a safer Scotland

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National Service launched in Perth.

A national Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) will deliver the benefits of reform to the people of Scotland and make the country a safer place to live says Chief Officer Alasdair Hay ahead of the move from eight regional services to a single Service on 1 April.

The merger will:

  • Protect and improve frontline services for local communities against a backdrop of significant budget reductions
  • Make communities safer by ensuring a more equitable access to specialist resources, expertise and national capacity across Scotland providing the right resources where and when they are needed most
  • Strengthen the links between the SFRS and the communities they serve through the appointment of 17 Local Senior Officers across the country (a statutory requirement of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012)
  • Deliver a streamlined command structure with fewer chief officers, across East, West and North Service Delivery Areas
  • Create 32 local fire plans for each of the country's local authority areas ensuring nationally directed but locally delivered services
  • Establish a national fire investigation unit and a focused approach to response and resilience emergency services and prevention and protection community safety activities designed to support the public to be safer from fire and other emergencies
  • Provide the opportunity to embed the very best standards of training and practices to shape a new SFRS that consistently delivers to the best of its capability

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said: "Officers and support staff from the eight existing fire and rescue services have been working hard to support the transition to a single national fire and rescue service for Scotland. Although a national organisation, we will continue to deliver our services locally for local communities. We will build on the excellent work that has already been done to reduce the instances of fires, fire casualties and fatalities and respond to a wide range of emergencies from firefighting to flooding, responding to road traffic collisions, people trapped and in need of our specialist resources and skills including water rescue, rope rescue and urban search and rescue.

"As a single service we are in the best position to face the financial challenges of public sector budget reductions and protect the frontline. We know the public value the service we provide and the professionalism and dedication of our operational crews. In the last few years, we have seen a steady reduction in fires casualties and fire fatalities but there is still work to be done and we will focus on that need for continuous improvement, working with the assistance and support of partner agencies and the public to deliver better outcomes for communities.

“Redesigning eight regional services into a national service will ensure that we reduce the duplication that currently exists and by being more efficient and effective can focus on delivering excellent emergency and community safety services. Our aim will be to ensure high quality, continually improving, effective and consistent services responsive to local people's needs irrespective of where they live, rural or urban."

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “I commend the hard work and commitment demonstrated by those in fire and rescue services across Scotland, in progressing reform and preparing for the launch of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) on 1 April 2013.

“Reform of the fire service in Scotland will deliver improved access to specialist services and national capacity and will enhance the vital frontline services communities across Scotland depend on, while offering a unique opportunity to do more.

“With much still to do in bringing the best from the eight previous services into a single, world class service, that hard work and commitment from fire and rescue service personnel leaves me in no doubt that the challenges ahead can and will be tackled, as the SFRS works with others to improve outcomes for people and communities throughout Scotland.”

Chair of the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board, Pat Watters, said: "The Board will play a crucial role in scrutinising the performance of the new Service as well as supporting the Chief Officer to shape and direct a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service that delivers for communities across Scotland.

“Partnership will be at the heart of everything we do. We will work closely with national and local government and develop stronger relationships with key partners including police, social care, health and housing and of course, staff and their representatives and the public to deliver a service we can all be proud of.

“Services will still be delivered from local stations by local firefighters and there should be no change to the excellent level of fire and rescue service provision and indeed we will be challenging the SFRS to improve where it can. A national service will ensure that people across the country have access to services that are designed on the basis of local need with the support of national expertise and resources.”