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EU fire working time threat eased

28 April 09 15:11 GMT

A "grave threat" to Scotland's fire services from EU working time rules has receded for the time being.

The vote to end the opt-out had raised fears that firefighters in rural areas would be unable to respond to call-outs because of the 48-hour week rule.

Talks between MEPs, member states and the European Commission failed to reach agreement on how to proceed.

The opt-out enables UK workers to work more than 48 hours. Euro MPs wanted this phased out over three years.

Fire unions lobbied Westminster in February, claiming that 91% of the UK could lose emergency fire cover.

They said this could cause deaths.

'Good news'

Ken Ross, Scottish secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Scotland, said: "This announcement will put many minds at rest."

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael said: "It looks like the plans which posed such a grave threat to the service provided by retained firefighters across Scotland have now been defeated.

"This is good news for Scotland's retained fire service and the communities which rely on it.

"However, ministers must be vigilant and ensure that they keep up the pressure as the European Commission consults on the way forward.

"With so much of the country reliant on retained firefighters to keep them safe, we cannot afford a situation where their ability to carry out their job is endangered."

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