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Early on Monday, September 25, there were reports of a fire in the famously deserted hotel, and fifteen fire engines were dispatched to put out the flames.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) recently implemented a programme of cutbacks, and as a result, Ayr's height appliance was removed from service around a month ago. Firefighters were then obliged to wait for Kilmarnock's to arrive from a distance of about 20 minutes. They had to wait for another one to arrive from the Glasgow region after it broke down.
The fire at the derelict hotel took place in the constituency of Siobhan Brown, MSP, who, as Minister for Victims and Community Safety, is responsible for the Fire and Rescue Service.
SFRS’s plan is to decrease the number of height appliances across Scotland from 26 to 14, as part of £11 million in cuts handed down by the Scottish Government this year. Tens of millions more cuts are anticipated over the following few years, on top of the 1200 firefighter jobs that have been lost in the previous ten years.
Kerry McCrone, Fire Brigades Union branch secretary for Ayr, said " Firefighters have been working hard to tackle the fire at the Station Hotel, but they have been robbed of adequate resources. But the lack of a height vehicle has clearly had implications. A month ago Ayr had its own barely a minute away from the fire. This time, crews waited for prolonged periods without one. The people of Ayr will rightly be furious the fire service has been cut to such an extent that we had to wait for a height appliance from as far away as Kilmarnock and Glasgow. Next time, when a fire breaks out in a working hotel or a residential building, the cost of the cuts could be far more tragic. The Scottish Government must think again about these cuts and give firefighters the tools they need to fight fires and save lives.”
Colin Brown, Scottish Executive Council member of the FBU said, " The fire at the Station Hotel Ayr is the latest example of the madness of the cuts being imposed on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. At a time when fire appliances and high-reach vehicles have been withdrawn this huge fire meant that fire appliances were called from across the South and West of Scotland leaving communities behind with little or no cover should another incident have occurred at the same time. Surely, with this major incident, Siobhan Brown can see that the cuts she is overseeing are endangering the lives of firefighters and the communities they serve. She now has all the evidence she needs to go back to the Finance Secretary and demand a greater share of the budget to put an end to the decade of irresponsible cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service.”
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05 September 2023