A circuit of charge points has been switched on to support a new fleet of electric vehicles for firefighters in rural communities across Scotland in a drive to reduce carbon emissions.
Last year, £2m of funding was provided by the Scottish Government’s Switched on Fleets initiative for the procurement of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to support the decarbonisation of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s fleet.
In addition to this key investment in low emission vehicles, SFRS is also boosting its water rescue capabilities with the arrival of twelve new boats, with a further eight being delivered in July, to keep communities safe.
Community Safety Minister Ash Denham joined SFRS Chief Officer Martin Blunden in Dundee (on Thursday, June 10) to hear more about the new resources and the Service's support for the Scottish Government's #LetsDoNetZero campaign.
SFRS’ current electric vehicle fleet of 45 Renault Zoe models will be topped up with 62 Kia E-Nero cars, which will be delivered to various rural hub stations and will be used by personnel to support retained and volunteer firefighters with their duties.
98 charge points based at 61 sites are live across the Service's rural fire stations. This network is expected to grow even further as funding becomes available.
Dundee has twelve charge points alone, combining those at the Dundee Asset Resource Centre and Dundee MacAlpine Fire Station.
Chief Officer Blunden said: "This investment in low emission cars for our light fleet is testament to our commitment to move to a carbon neutral Service.
"We are not only providing this circuit of electric vehicles and charge points for rural stations, but many of our buildings are being refitted with renewable energy technologies.
"Our staff will be supported to adapt to these new ways of working and maximise the use of this infrastructure.
“This £750,000 investment in water rescue crafts will be a real asset to our crews at the frontline of tackling extreme weather-related incidents such as flooding.
"We know our main sources of carbon emissions come from fuelling our fleet as well as heating and powering our buildings. Taking this into account, we’ve pledged to reduce our emissions by six percent each year until 2030.
"The Service is ready to play its part in Scotland’s net zero future."
Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said: “The Scottish Government is committed to investing in the modernisation of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, most recently with a £8.7m increase in funding for 2021-22.
“The introduction of rural full time posts by SFRS over the last three years has provided a significant boost for local economies in remote and rural areas and has been very positive in promoting fire safety and in strengthening the response capability and recruitment of retained firefighters.
“Thanks to funding provided by both the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, these vital staff will now be able to travel in low carbon vehicles making a significant contribution to SFRS reducing its CO2 emissions in the year when Scotland hosts the COP26 conference on climate change. The new SFRS rescue boats are also a welcome development which will increase the capability of this crucial service.”
It’s a timely launch of the new water rescue crafts which will be mobilised to emergency calls involving persons in difficulty.
Chief Officer Blunden added: “Our water rescue firefighters practice techniques with a wide range of specialist equipment that enable them to carry out their work safely and effectively and these new boats will enhance their capabilities.
"However, we would appeal to the public not to risk their lives in and around open water which can become very cold just a few feet under the surface and cause Cold Water Shock.
“Unless you are fully trained, competent and equipped to enter water courses, keep a safe distance this summer.”