‘Accident waiting to happen’ at nuclear base after fire crew cuts, says trade union

Capita has reduced numbers on the specialist fire safety crew at HM Naval Base Clyde

Fire crews training at the Naval Base at Faslane, near Helensburgh.

By Rory Murphy

Cuts to fire crews at the Faslane and Coulport nuclear submarine bases are “an accident waiting to happen”, according to a trade union.

Capita has reduced numbers on the specialist fire safety crew at HM Naval Base Clyde in Argyll and Bute.

The company provides fire response services for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Unite, which represents workers on the bases, said the cuts will “seriously impair the abilities of the onsite fire crews to do their jobs properly”.

The union said Capita has reduced the specialist fire safety crew by eight positions.

It added it intends to “move forward with an industrial action ballot” of workers.

Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: “Capita’s cuts are an accident waiting to happen, make no mistake about that, and it is not scaremongering on our part.

“This private company is effectively jeopardising the safety response capabilities at the Clyde’s nuclear naval bases as part of a cost-saving exercise.

“We really have to ask ourselves whether this country is content to leave the nation’s fire response capabilities to a company hell-bent on saving money through cuts which compromise safety.”

Capita said the impact of the cuts would be minimal, with four members of staff taking voluntary redundancy.

It added that new technical systems to enhance fire safety had been introduced and Coulport and Faslane are due to receive new firefighting vehicles by the end of the year.

A spokesman for the company said: “We have conducted a thorough review of fire risks at Faslane and Coulport with input from all relevant MoD stakeholders.

“This included consultation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and accounted for our investment in new technology to reduce fire risk.

“The review’s recommendation to adjust resourcing levels at both sites was ultimately approved by the MoD.

“We are committed to the delivery of better fire risk outcomes for the Ministry of Defence, its personnel and our firefighters.”

An MoD spokesman said: “Fire safety at naval bases is of the utmost importance. A comprehensive review of fire risks at Faslane and Coulport has been conducted and found no issues concerning safety standards.

“The Defence Fire and Rescue contract will modernise the firefighting force with new vehicles, technology and training to provide a safer environment for both firefighters and those they protect.”

HMNB CLYDE hosted a bring your family to work day. The young people who attended the day went down to the Clyde fire station on camp. They got shown around the station including a tour of a fire appliance. The children then went on to use the fire appiances hoses.

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