Jackie Baillie MSP The official website of Scottish Labour Deputy Leader, Jackie Baillie MSP.
Jackie Baillie has said that the Scottish Government must come forward with an emergency plan to refurbish Scotland’s dilapidated fire estate including Helensburgh Fire Station or they risk endangering more firefighters’ lives.
The call comes after it was revealed firefighters in Scotland are 1.6 times more likely to die from cancer, five times more likely to die from heart attacks and three times more likely to die from strokes than the general population. Despite these alarming statistics, firefighters are currently being put at further risk due to a lack of spaces to decontaminate.
In total, 220 stations are in poor or bad condition, over 150 do not have any shower facilities, over 100 lack drying facilities, and 11 have no water supply at all. Helensburgh Fire Station has been identified as requiring urgent capital maintenance due to having a flat roof constructed from Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). The estimated cost of addressing this is over £7million.
The collapse of a primary school’s flat roof in Essex in 2018 highlighted the issue with roofs of this construction and Helensburgh, along with 13 other Scottish fire stations are being closely monitored as a result.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service confirmed this to the Criminal Justice Committee along with advising an estimated £138 million is needed to address the issue of station suitability, but there is currently a £630 million backlog on its capital budget.
Dumbarton constituency MSP Jackie Baillie said: “Cuts to the fire estate are literally putting firefighters at risk of dangerous illness. This has affected firefighters locally and will continue to do so until robust action is taken. It is alarming to hear that Helensburgh Fire Station is one of 14 stations identified as requiring urgent work to be undertaken yet there is no plan for how this will be taken forward.
“Firefighters, who work so hard to ensure the safety of people in the communities across Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, must be well equipped, well-resourced, well protected and well paid to do this vital. For one in four fire stations in the country to lack basic bathroom facilities and some without a running water supply is shameful.
“The result is a group of lifeline public service workers, who are exposed to dangerous fire contaminants in their everyday job, but don’t have the support they need. They must be able to wash off the toxic substances they come into contact with during their work.
“The SNP has failed to provide the investment needed to modernise the estate over the last 15 years while they have been in power. Not only does this have an impact on the individuals but compromises public safety.
“The Scottish Government must disclose what they will do to address this, providing the much-needed refurbishment the fire estate needs.”