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Fire service in push for staff

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Front
Fire service in push for staff

FIRE service chiefs insist that they are working 24/7 to try and recruit retained firefighters at stations across Dumfries and Galloway.

Retained firefighters often have other primary employment but are trained to provide part-time cover at fire stations during certain periods to ensure an ongoing emergency service.

However, on-call staffing levels have dropped, particularly in places such as Gretna and Dalbeattie, and this matter has been raised at various council meetings.

At last week’s Nithsdale area committee, a fire service update report was tabled detailing the activity of firefighters in the community between April 1 and September 30 last year.

Abbey Councillor Davie Stitt, who has expressed concerns about the lack of retained fire service cover on numerous occasions, brought the matter up again.

He continued: “I know this report is up until September 2022, but I was just wondering if there has been any improvement in getting people on board.

“Because I noticed on Saturday that fire and rescue were doing a recruitment drive in Tesco at Castle Douglas.

“So, I’m just wondering if the figures are any better because it’s getting quite alarming – and not just Dalbeattie, but with other stations with the amount of staff that’s available.”

Fire service station commander Chris Ross replied: “We are continually trying to recruit. We’re using any avenue available to us, including social media and, as you say, recruitment events at places like Tesco and other larger venus where we try to grab people on the day.

“Particularly in Dalbeattie, we’ve had some recruitment promotion so that should improve. The process of recruitment does take a bit of time from the initial selection to suitability and initial training.

“As they have primary employment, they can’t always complete all the training initially. So, there’s a bit of a time lag before they can continue their next phase of training.

“And it’s when they’ve completed that – which is usually 12 weeks after they start – then they can be counted as some of the (staff) numbers.”

He added: “Rest assured that the area management teams for all these stations are continually looking to recruit.”

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