DISAPPOINTED . . . Councillor Richard Brodie is upset the Annan swift water rescue boat is being moved
The highly trained unit has been operational at Annan Fire Station since 2009 and has been involved in incidents and rescues across Nithsdale and Annandale and Eskdale and even into Cumbria.
But after a national reviewby the SFRS, it has been decided that a specially trained unit and new boat will take over at the full-time station at Brooms Road, Dumfries.
The region’s other swift water rescue unit at Newton Stewart also remains and has been enhanced with a new boat and equipment.
It means the end of the unit at Annan which was introduced by the old Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service.
The decision has sparked anger in many quarters, and Councillor Richard Brodie said: “It was talked about previously and it is going to be a big loss to the town. I think it is part of an ongoing process where everything is sucked into the centre and rural areas like Annan are losing services for the local people.”
He added: “The Solway can be dangerous and there have been rescues there. They have also worked closely with organisations like the Harbour Trust for water safety.”
And Neil Macintyre, vice chairman of Annan Community Council, said: “I think it is wrong to be moved away from here and it could cost lives. The harbour here is now being used more and more and this is just one more service being moved out of Annan: we lost our JP Court and at Dumfries the control was closed down.”
A former Annan firefighter said the station had been proud of its record and had been enthusiastic about having the boat based here.
He said: “I think there is obvious anger in many quarters about this move for it seemed to be so central for covering the area from Dumfries eastwards and was available to go quickly into Cumbria if required and as it has done in the past.”
Defending the move, a spokesman for the SFRS said: “A review of all specialist resources identified steps to improve water rescue capability. As a result we have enhanced the boat at Newton Stewart to bring that resource up to a national standard
for water rescue and ensured the boat at Dumfries is now both fit-for purpose and immediately available whenever it is needed.”
He added: “These measures increase our water rescue capability in the area and are designed to better protect people throughout Dumfries and Galloway.”