Introducing the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

haymakerOn April 1, 2013 the existing eight Fire and Rescue Services of Scotland will merge to form a single national Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. In an exclusive report for the December/January issue of FIRE Magazine, we profiled the new Strategic Leadership Team:  

Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay

Alasdair Hay, former acting Chief Fire Officer of Tayside Fire and Rescue Service, took up his post as Scotland’s first Chief Officer in October last year and has since been heading up the reform team tasked with delivering the new Service for April 2013.

Hay’s watchword is continuity, and while he will be striving for greater efficiency in the face of on-going budgetary pressures, he is adamant that the merger will not affect the current Scottish approach, which has seen the number of house fires in Scotland at the lowest number in a decade.

“Our strategy will continue to recognise the importance of prevention and protection work and will carry forward the partnership agenda set out in Scotland Together, a major, national study into the specific fire risks to people in Scotland. We will also maintain our commitment to response and resilience, ensuring that the safety of the public and our staff remains our top priority.”

Chair of the Board Pat Watters

Chief Officer Hay’s appointment was swiftly followed by that of a new Chair of the Board, Pat Watters and 11 new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board members.

Appointed for the next four years, the Chair and members of the Board will be charged with the governance of the new Service, ensuring that it is performing strongly and within budget, and that it is delivering excellent frontline services to local communities across the country.

Watters said: “The task we have ahead of us is a critical one. The current services are well-renowned for the work they carry out whether fighting fires and saving lives or delivering community safety education and advice to keep the public safe from the risk of fire and other emergencies.

“But we are entering a period of significant challenge both in terms of the unprecedented financial constraints facing the public sector and through the process of merging eight services together to form a single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). Although this will involve changes to how the services are currently configured everyone is fully committed to making this a successful transition that will deliver a forward looking and resilient fire and rescue service capability that serves the people of Scotland."

The Board members for the new SFRS will be Bob Benson, James Campbell, Kirsty Darwent, Marieke Dwarshuis, Michael Foxley, Robin Iffla, Bill McQueen, Sid Patten, Neil Pirie, Grant Thoms and Martin Togneri.

Once the Chief Officer, Chair and Board members were appointed, the job of selecting a Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) of Assistant Chief Officers, and non-uniform posts of Director of Finance and Contractual Services and Director of People and Organisational Development began.

The Strategic Leadership Team will support the Chief in the creation and successful delivery of the new national Service. Following a very robust and challenging selection process, these key appointments were confirmed in November.

Local Service Delivery

The new Service will combine the benefits of national governance, with local service delivery and will divide Scotland into three key areas: North, which will be made up of the current services in Highlands and Islands, Tayside and Grampian; East, which will cover Lothian and Borders, Fife and Central; and West, which will be made up of Strathclyde and Dumfries and Galloway.

Chief Officer Hay’s vision is of local empowerment, with policy and strategy set nationally, but with area hubs delivering services in a way that best meets local needs:

  • Alex Clark, Acting Chief Fire Officer at Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service was appointed the Deputy Chief Officer for the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
  • Dave Boyle (formerly Tayside FRS) will become the new Assistant Chief Officer and Director of the West Hub.
  • Peter Murray (formerly Grampian FRS) will become Assistant Chief Officer and Director of the East Hub.
  • Robert Scott (formerly Strathclyde FRS) will become Assistant Chief Officer and Director of the North Hub.
  • Lewis Ramsay (formerly Strathclyde FRS) will become Assistant Chief Officer and Director of Prevention and Protection.
  • David Goodhew (formerly Strathclyde FRS) will become Assistant Chief Officer and Director of Response and Resilience.
  • Sarah O’Donnell, (formerly Strathclyde FRS) will take up the post of Director of Finance and Contractual Services.
  • Diane Vincent, (formerly Strathclyde FRS) will take up the post of Director of People and Organisational Development.

These appointments are a significant step along the reform journey. The new team will be required to review the work that has been done to date to prepare for the new SFRS and make any operational decisions that are required to ensure that on April 1, 2013 the Service can function effectively and meet its statutory obligations under the new Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill.

CFO Alasdair Hay concluded: “Recent months have seen us mark a number of key milestones in our journey towards the creation of a new national Service.

“With a Chair and Board in place to scrutinise and support our work and a dedicated and committed Strategic Leadership Team we can now begin to make decisions on how a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service of the future will look and operate.

“There is a significant amount of work to be done to ensure that the best practice and traditions of each of our respective Services is used to create a strong, modern and forward looking Fire and Rescue Service fit for the 21st century.

“Meetings are already taking place across the country with local authorities and key stakeholders to engage with them about new arrangements and the detail of how services will be delivered in the future. Crucially, local authorities will retain an important say in how they receive key local services ensuring that their top priorities are addressed. We will continue to work closely with them, our partners and local communities for a safer Scotland.

“There is no denying that we are entering a period of unprecedented change – but from the work already delivered, it is clear that the dedication, professionalism and sheer enthusiasm displayed across Scotland thus far will continue into the new Service. While we may not see much radical change on ‘day one’, I am confident that as we move towards our ‘end state’ of 2015/16, all of Scotland’s diverse communities will reap the benefits of reform.”

We will have more on the Scottish single service transition in the April edition of FIRE Magazine - click here to subscribe

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