The guidance given by a control room operator of Tayside Fire and Rescue helped save the lives of a young Perth family, a union spokesman insisted yesterday. Jim Malone, secretary of FBU Tayside, cited Tuesday night’s fire at Ainslie Place in the Muirton area as proof that the control room in Dundee should be maintained.
A fire broke out in an unoccupied ground-floor flat at around 8 pm and spread to the above property, which contained a mother and her two young children.
Before the appliances from Perth’s Longcauseway base had arrived at the scene, a worker in the control room had talked the woman to the front window.
They were subsequently brought to the ground by an aerial platform and taken to Perth Royal Infirmary to be treated for smoke inhalation. All three were released later that evening.
There are proposals to centralise force control rooms across Scotland, and these plans have been the subject of fierce opposition by the FBU Scotland since the recommendation was made in August last year.
Mr Malone explained, “The fire survival guidance given by the local control operator supports our campaign to save the control room.
“The team member talked the occupants of the flat in Ainslie Place to the window from where they were subsequently rescued by an aerial platform.
“What this incident has shown is the valuable service our control room provides. Local dialect and local knowledge have helped save three lives.”
If the decision is ultimately taken to cut the number of control rooms in Scotland, this could result in the loss of 120 jobs—and perhaps as many as 20 in Tayside.
Mr Malone believes any reduction will only lead to a slower reaction time.
Fewer fire controllers will be handling more calls, he said, and it will be more dangerous for firefighters and the public.
Meanwhile, Mr Malone also pointed out that Tuesday night’s fire supports his union’s campaign to maintain the current number of aerial platforms in Tayside.
He said, “There is a suggestion that the integrated risk management plan—expected next month—may reduce aerial platforms.
“They are crucial to our work and this again shows their value.”