Scottish Fire and Rescue Service invests in community safety in the Western Isles

(From L to R) GM Iain Macleod; Chief Fire Officer; Alasdair Hay’ Chair of the SFRS Board, Pat Watters; and LSO Fraser Burr.

Communities in the Western Isles of Scotland are set to benefit from a near £3m investment, which has transformed the fire station at Stornoway and delivered vital modern training facilities.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s extensive 12-month renovation programme has doubled the size of the former station, which now includes additional office space for support staff. And it means firefighters across the Western Isles can receive training closer to home – equipping them to stand on the frontline at times of emergency. It will also serve as a valuable community asset, providing a place for residents to meet and for the SFRS to engage with local partners.

The Western Isles District Office and Stornoway Community Fire Station was officially opened on 24 August by the Chair of the SFRS Board, Pat Watters, accompanied by Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay.

Mr Watters said, “Today’s official opening marks the culmination of some serious effort to deliver a truly outstanding facility for our firefighters across the Western Isles – and they deserve no less. They are committed to their communities, responding at a moment’s notice to protect at times of emergency – and we are committed to them.

“We are committed to providing them with the modern resources and training required to keep standing on that frontline and I commend their unwavering dedication, so very typical of firefighters.

“This building is not only bricks and mortar. It is a concrete symbol of our values, our drive and our determination to do the very best for our communities across the country as we continue to move forward as a truly world class fire and rescue service.”

Stornoway’s fire station, located in the heart of the historic town, was originally built in 1953 and later expanded in 1971. The refurbished building will support the Western Isles’ 140 retained duty system firefighters (RDS). It includes two new lecture rooms, one of which is available as a community room, which supports SFRS’s commitment to community planning, engagement and safety.

It’s the latest SFRS investment in the North. A 2016 partnership deal with Highlands & Islands Airport Limited brought a new fire training unit to Stornoway Airport for crews train in temperatures up to 600°C and share expertise.

Chief Officer Hay said, “I am absolutely delighted to be here today for the official launch of this key facility, which will undoubtedly enhance the service we provide to the Western Isles. I cannot emphasise enough the vitally important role of our retained crews – they are the life-blood of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and I wholeheartedly thank them for their dedication. It is therefore right and proper that they are supported, trained and equipped to meet emerging modern risks such as severe weather-related flooding. The Western Isles District Office and Stornoway Community Fire Station represents our commitment to them – and to the communities of the Western Isles.”

The SFRS is seeking to recruit RDS firefighters across most of the 14 stations in the Western Isles who respond to some 400 incidents per year.