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Scotland’s firefighters tackle almost 100k emergency incidents in a year

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In a recent release, data reveals that Scottish firefighters attended more than 99,500 emergency incidents in the last year.

The Fire and Rescue Incident Statistics for 2022-23, unveiled on Tuesday, 31 October 2023, were presented alongside the Annual Performance Review (APR) in Aberdeen.

The figures highlight some interesting trends and shifts in the challenges faced by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Over half of the incidents were false alarms

The data paints a clear picture: more than half of the reported incidents were false alarms.

However, firefighters still had their hands full, responding to 4,305 dwelling fires.

This number marks a decline, being down seven percent from the previous year.

On the other hand, the number of flooding incidents witnessed a surge.

There were 3,139 cases in 2022-23, a considerable increase from the 1,617 recorded the year prior.

Feedback and insights from the APR event in Scotland

The APR offers the Scottish Government a platform to formally assess the performance of SFRS against a set of previously established priorities.

Chief Officer Ross Haggart stated: “Our people are our greatest asset, displaying dedication and professionalism daily as they carry out their roles in our communities.

“Their physical and mental health will remain a priority. They must continue to have the right equipment to carry out their varied role and to keep them safe.”

Haggart further explained that there is a significant need for investment in infrastructure, saying: “We have substantial work to do to bring our estate up to standard and so we must ensure the right projects are being prioritised to deliver best value for money to the public.

“We will also continue to progress a joint approach to the management of contaminants, focusing especially on creating a recording system for staff exposed to fire contaminants.”

Financial challenges on the horizon for the SFRS

The APR report also shed light on imminent financial obstacles the Service might face. Based on the projections provided by SFRS, savings between £37 and £48 million would be required in the coming three years.

This forecast arises from the Scottish Government’s Resource Spending Review, which had suggested a static budget for both resource and capital expenditure for the period from 2023/24 to 2026/27.

Emphasising the challenges ahead, Chief Officer Haggart remarked: “We remain committed to the modernisation of our service to do more for our communities, but this requires investment.

“We cannot realistically reduce costs to this extent without impacting on our frontline emergency service.”

Siobhan Brown MSP, Minister for Victims and Community Safety, commented: “The Review and Annual Report provides everyone with the ability to consider the Service’s performance and the work that has been carried out over the past year.

“This is the first full reporting year under the seven priorities within the Scottish Government 2022 Fire Framework which outlines the ambitions and priorities for the SFRS.”

IFSJ Comment

The report from the Fire and Rescue Incident Statistics 2022-23 offers a comprehensive insight into the multifaceted challenges faced by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Notably, the rise in flooding incidents underscores the changing landscape of emergencies that services must be equipped for.

While the decrease in dwelling fires is a positive sign, the Service’s financial challenges ahead could pose significant hurdles in maintaining such improvements.

It’s evident that sustained investment, modernisation, and community-centric approaches will be paramount for SFRS as they navigate the years ahead.

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