EDINBURGH’S fire control room at Tollcross faces a race for survival as bosses of Scotland’s new single fire and rescue service prepare to rule on its fate.
Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham was today meeting the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service board ahead of its crunch meeting at the end of the month when it will agree which two control rooms will be retained out of the four in Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness and which will close.
Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament and argued the Edinburgh control room was best placed to meet the strategic needs of the service for the city and the wider east of Scotland area. She said the Tollcross base was ideal for directing calls from the Lothians, Borders and Fife.
Ms Boyack added: “I have met the staff in the Edinburgh control room, who are deeply worried about the idea that they would relocate to another place if that control room was closed.
“They are also deeply worried that we would lose expertise that is critical to delivery of the high standards of safety that are at the core of the service.”
Edinburgh Central SNP MSP Marco Biagi also called for the continued operation of the Edinburgh control room.
He said Edinburgh was the second largest and the second busiest control room, its information technology was very much up to date and there was no financial benefit to closing the control room since it was based in an operational fire station.
Ms Cunningham told the parliament all the issues raised would be taken into consideration when the board made its final decision.
Fire chiefs originally proposed cutting the number of control rooms from eight to just two – at Johnstone in Renfrewshire and Dundee. That would have meant Tollcross closing and calls being diverted to Dundee. But the SFRS board decided there should be three centres and Johnstone would be one of them. A decision on the others had been due in November, but has now been postponed until January 30.
Councillor Mike Bridgman, convener of the city’s police and fire scrutiny committee, said he was optimistic that the Tollcross control room would stay open. He said: “We had a meeting with the chair of the board and the chief fire officer and put our case that Edinburgh should be retained. They listened intently and took on board what we were saying.”
Cllr Bridgman said if there were to be three control rooms it made sense to have one each in the north, east and west – and that would mean keeping Edinburgh because Dundee was classed as being in the north along with Aberdeen and Inverness.
The Fire Brigades Union has said it is concerned about staff being displaced or effectively made redundant and its priority is to secure as many jobs as possible.