Turbulent times face Lothian firefighters as morale plummets over voluntary redundancies. Invitations have been sent out to both firefighters and support staff under two months after fire chiefs announced a £7.5 million spend on a ‘risk village’ which will be based in Newbridge. This move is set to be one of many measures taken by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue service ahead of anticipated budget cuts which could total over £5m. Andy Futton, chairman of Lothian and Borders Fire Brigades Union, said: “I’m disappointed in the service for issuing these letters before the extent of the cuts. It’s the wrong message to be sending out.”
The Newbridge site already houses a fire fighter driving training facility but this planned expansion will see excising and new facilities being added. The aptly named risk village is set to include include a car crash simulation route and the move of the mock ship which has been based at MacDonald Road fire station for almost two decades. Firefighters are left wondering why Scotland needs so many training centres when recruitment is at an all time low. A spokeswoman for the fire service said: “The letters are being sent out to all members of staff as part of policy approved by the fire board. All applicants for voluntary redundancy will be considered, but applicants may not have them accepted.
Recent figures have proved that the Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue service is one of the most cost effective, costing £50 per head PA compared to the Scottish average of £59.99.