McArthur: SNP must revisit fire service funding as wildfire risk is "very high"

Scottish Liberal Democrat climate emergency spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today called on the Scottish Government to introduce measures that will support emergency services as they tackle increasing environmental threats, after the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) announced a “very high” risk of wildfires across southern and eastern parts of Scotland this week.   

The risk warning will be in place until Friday as temperatures climbed to record levels across Scotland this week, reaching an all-time high of 35.1C.   

On Tuesday, the SFRS was called out to a farm in Kelso to tackle a fire which started around lunchtime. Six appliances brought the incident under control. 

The deputy chief assistant of the SFRS Bruce Farquharson has stated that a combination of extremely high temperatures, green growth and overlying dead vegetation can trigger ignition very quickly. He urged the public to take “simple steps” to prevent the outbreak of these fires by avoiding lighting them altogether or, where they do, ensuring they are in a safe container which can be extinguished easily.   

Responding to rising temperatures and the increased risks they carry, Mr McArthur commented: 

“The climate emergency is not just a problem for someone else, somewhere else. Scotland is feeling the consequences first-hand and this reinforces the urgency of the challenge we face.   

“I welcome the advice of the SFRS. There are simple steps the public can take to mitigate the risk of wildfires by avoiding lighting fires outdoors where possible. 

"However, Scottish Liberal Democrats have previously revealed that SFRS spent £27m on overtime in the past five years and that an average of 20 retained firefighters or volunteer staff are leaving the service every month. That’s not sustainable  

“SFRS need to be properly resourced and equipped to tackle the threats that confront our planet today.” 

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