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Firefighters service not at full strength in Badenoch and Strathspey

By Gavin Musgrove

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Grantown Fire Station has good numbers but there are still vacancies for firefighters here and elsewhere in the strath.
Grantown Fire Station has good numbers but there are still vacancies for firefighters here and elsewhere in the strath.

There are currently vacancies for firefighters at all the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's stations in Badenoch and Strathspey, it has emerged.

Local Highland councillors have asked what the current position is on recruitment after latest figures showed that the SFRS is not at full strength in Badenoch and Strathspey.

SFRS Highland LSO Area Group Commander Ross Nixon stated in his response to today's council area committee meeting: "We still have vacancies at all of the stations in the area, however, we currently have a number of applicants going through the recruitment process.

"Our recruitment engagement through our Twitter and Facebook pages has been well received and widely shared.

"We have also had a number of new potential applicants come forward in the last few weeks with three for Aviemore alone.

"We have one new firefighter in Grantown and three in Carrbridge".

Mr Nixon was asked if the rising house prices in parts of the strath could be to blame for some of the recruitment issues.

He said the current pool of firefighters comes from those living and working in the local area but believes that higher housing prices could create some headaches in the future.

Mr Nixon said: "A high proportion of our young firefighters are finding it difficult to purchase a property and this could lead them to look out with the area in the future in order to get on the property ladder."

The report that went before the council's area committee meeting virtually said efforts were on-going to improve call-out response figures for fire crews.

According to figures which went before local councillors, a small fall in the number of firefighters based in Aviemore to 11 has been reflected in a drop in availability to an average of 89 per cent for call-outs from the station compared to 99 per cent for the first appliance in Grantown and 98 per cent in Kingussie.

The figure for the second fire engine in the Strathspey capital is 59 per cent amongst the 14 firefighters based at the station.

SFRS Local Senior Officer for Highland Roddy Chapman said: “The service is actively recruiting in a number of communities to improve station and fire appliance availability.

“Local management are targetting the communities of Grantown and Aviemore to identify potential candidates for recruitment campaigns this year.

“Previous campaigns in both Newtonmore and Carrbridge have resulted in a welcome increase in staffing numbers.”

There are currently 54 firefighters – including Newtonmore, Nethy Bridge and Carrbridge’s community response units.

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