Fire Brigades Union is consulting members ahead of a ballot on industrial action which could lead to a strike next year
By Lucy Ashton
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service cannot be reformed “on the cheap” as firefighters consider strike action, their union chief has warned.
Colin Brown of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the emergency service was in “crisis” due to years of under-funding – with communities put at risk as a result.
Hundreds of firefighters are expected to rally outside the Scottish Parliament on October 26 to draw politicians’ attention to the issue.
The FBU is currently consulting with its members ahead of a ballot on industrial action. If approved it could lead to the first firefighters’ strike in Scotland in two decades.
Brown said the emergency service was struggling to recruit and retain younger staff while experienced firefighters were demoralised by budget cuts.
“We don’t easily enter into a conversation about strikes,” he said. “Last year, we balloted for strike action over pay. This isn’t over pay. It’s about the health and safety of firefighters and the communities they go out and serve.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Firefighters play a vital role in protecting our communities and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has continued to deliver the high standard of services required to keep Scotland safe.
“While recruitment, training and retention of firefighters is an operational matter for SFRS, we are maintaining front-line services, with a higher number of firefighters in Scotland than other parts of the UK.
“Strikes are in no one’s interests and ministers will continue engaging with the FBU to discuss their concerns.”