Concern over lack of Oban firefighters

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A vital piece of equipment had to be brought from Clydebank – a round trip of 170 miles – to attend an emergency in Oban, while the same piece of kit lay a mile along the road unused, writ es Louise Glen.

Concerns about the length of time it took for a high ladder platform to reach the scene of a fire in Oban were blamed on a lack of staff at Oban Community Fire Station, a spokeswoman has said.

A fire on Oban’s George Street on June 6 saw a road closed while flats above Nories were made safe. Police and firefighters were on scene quickly to rescue people from more than nine homes in the building over three floors. But an Aerial Ladder Platform (ALP) took more than two hours to get to George Street.

The appliance could not be staffed from Oban and was therefore unable to be mobilised from the community fire station, and instead one was brought from Clydebank.

Three former firefighters have since raised their concerns with The Oban Times about the length of time it took for the ALP to arrive in town.

While not wishing to be named, they said the lack of retained staff in Oban was worrying. One said: ‘I do not mean to be alarmist when I say this, but there is a danger to safety if retained staff do not come forward.’

A spokeswoman said: ‘The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service received reports at 11.20am on Tuesday June 6 of a fire at a two-storey commercial premise in Oban.

‘Two fire appliances from Oban were immediately mobilised to the scene with the first arriving within six minutes.

‘Firefighters extinguished the fire and ensured the area was made safe.

There were no casualties. A height appliance was also mobilised, however due to the unavailability of retained crew in Oban this was sent from Clydebank, in accordance with SFRS procedure.

‘It has proven a challenge to recruit retained firefighters in some areas but we would ask local residents to continue to support us to help keep their community safe.’

The spokeswoman continued: ‘The SFRS is available to support residents, most notably through our free home fire safety visits where firefighters will provide safety advice and guidance on what to do in an emergency.’

To book a free home fire safety visit call 0800 0731 999, text ‘FIRE’ to 80800 or visit www.firescotland.gov.uk