'Insurmountable' backlog of maintenance

14 June 2018

Scotland's Auditor General, Caroline Gardner, says that the nation's fire and rescue service will need an annual investment of £37.8m over the next 10 years just to prevent further deterioration of equipment and resources.

The publication of a report, 'Scottish Fire and Rescue Service: an update', says that turning the SFRS into a more flexible, modern service 'has been steady but slow'.

Caroline Gardner's report says real progress has been made with integrating the eight former services into a single body. The SFRS is judged to be in a good position to complete the process following a deal agreed in April to harmonise firefighter's pay and conditions. 

Ambitious plans to modernise and transform the service, however, have been affected by: 

  • A cautious approach taken by the SFRS to secure political, staff, trades unions' and public backing for its vision; 
  • The need for sufficient funding to begin implementing change; 
  • Limited availability of senior officers to lead transformation projects. 

The service has inherited a capital backlog of £389 million needed to maintain and invest in property, vehicles and equipment. 

This backlog, says the report, is insurmountable without a transformation of the service's current delivery model and additional investment. 

Ms Gardner said: "The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has an ambitious vision that involves significant changes to make it a more flexible, modern service. 

"It has been working towards this for some time and has taken a cautious and measured approach due to a range of contributing factors. 

"It now needs to press ahead with transformation so that it can respond to the changing needs of the public and can address its increasingly unsustainable model of delivery. 

"This will take time to achieve and will mean difficult decisions about how the SFRS deploys its people and resources.”

Original source 

Audit Scotland