Firing on Zero Cylinders

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Go Electric as Part of Decarbonisation Drive

The SFRS runs a fleet of cars to support its rural fire stations. These vehicles are used by RVDS (Rural and Volunteer Duty System) personnel to travel between stations and ensure fire engines remain available to respond to incidents. Since 2019, the service has been switching this fleet from diesel to electric vehicles as part of a programme to reduce its carbon footprint.

Scotland in Motion visited the community fire station in Comrie, Perthshire to find out how its new electric recruit is settling in. Watch the video to find out more.

RVDS Watch Commander Matthew McLay with one of the SFRS fleet of Kia e-Niro electric vehicles

Comrie Community Fire Station is one of 357 fire stations in Scotland, more than 300 of which are crewed fully or partly under the RVDS. These stations tend to be in non-urban and rural areas where the frequency of incidents is lower but the geographical coverage wider.

Retained firefighters are paid for their work, but have “day jobs” elsewhere and carry pagers and respond to call-outs as and when required. They indicate their availability for service by signing on and off via their mobile phones. However, because they don’t work fixed shift rotas, it can arise that not enough firefighters are available at any one time to form a full crew (4-6 depending on the incident). RVDS Watch Commanders like Matthew McLay are employed full-time by the service to cover clusters of stations. One of their jobs is to be keep as many fire engines as possible “on the run”. That means being present at those stations where not enough of the local firefighters are available to form a full crew, which can involve quite a lot of darting around the countryside from station to station. An RVDS Watch Commander is a senior officer qualified to manage an incident and/or to drive the machine.

The Comrie station is crewed by a roster of 13 firefighters, one of whom is a woman. Retained firefighters can come from all sorts of professional backgrounds, but a large proportion of the crew at Comrie work in the building trades. When SiM visited the station, the firefighters were carrying out ladder and hose drills as part of their regular weekly training routine.

Did you know?

Firefighters attended a total of 91,971 incidents in 2019-2020.

Of those, a staggering 53,122 (57.8%) were false alarms.

Many false alarms are the result of fire alarm systems connected directly to the alert centre. These are installed in critical buildings, such as care homes for the elderly, schools and other public facilities where a fire alarm may be set off by something as simple as burnt toast. However, the potential risk posed to users and residents of these kinds of facilities are sufficient to merit a “better safe than sorry” approach.

24,472 were fires

Those fires resulted in 1,024 non-fatal casualties and, sadly, 27 fatal casualties. Scotland’s fire fatality rate is 7.5 per million of population.

Of the 91,971 incidents attended in 2019-2020, 14,377 were deemed non-fire incidents. These might include road traffic collisions (RTCs), floods or downed trees. While Comrie has never been called out for the proverbial cat stuck in a tree, it has attended for the rural equivalent – a sheep stuck in a ditch.

Photos and video by Elaine Catton

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s