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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 19:14 GMT
Fire union dismisses review
Sir George Bain
Sir George Bain published his review on Monday
Fire union leaders in Scotland have dismissed as "ludicrous" a review of the fire service and warned it could see lives put at risk.

The overhaul of the fire service proposed in an independent review might lead to around 1,400 jobs losses among Scotland's firefighters, according to the Fire Brigades Union.

The Bain review - published on Monday - said many aspects of the fire service needed modernising, ranging from shift patterns and overtime to fire prevention strategies.

The review also suggests firms could be charged for false fire alarm calls and insurance companies might have to pay when fire crews attend road accidents.

John McDonald
John McDonald was dismissive of the report

But John McDonald, of FBU Scotland, rejected the report and said he feared it could lead to the amalgamation of control rooms.

He said: "I think these proposals are ludicrous for the future of the fire service.

"It will put lives at risk, it is ill thought out and ill informed, and is no way to modernise the British fire service."

Scotland has eight brigades, and although the report does not specifically state whether the number will be reduced, union officials fear amalgamation could be on the cards.

Mr McDonald also said reducing the number of firefighters on night duty would be a dangerous step to take.

He added: "If we reduced the numbers of firefighters on duty during the hours of darkness, what would have happened if we had another fire like the one recently in Edinburgh?"

The report, as a result of an inquiry chaired by Sir George Bain, recommended an 11% rise in firefighters' pay over two years coupled with modernisation of their working practices.

Fire picket
More strikes are planned for January

The body representing firefighters' employers, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), said it was important to study the review before drawing any conclusions.

The report recommends a 4% rise this year followed by 7% next year - at a cost to the fire service of 140m over three years.

It praised community planning in Dumfries and Galloway involving the fire service and other agencies.

This maximises community safety effectiveness and reduces the number of deaths and injuries in house fires, it said.

Pat Watters, Cosla president, said he had hoped the FBU had taken the time to contribute to the review over such "an important issue".

"This is something that is going to go on over the coming weeks and hopefully at the end of that we can get a resolution," he said.

Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan said the Bain report should be "burnt in the braziers of the picket lines".


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26 Nov 02 | Politics
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