Fears for public safety have been raised after it emerged a Dundee fire station was left without full time cover in recent weeks.
Balmossie fire station lost full time cover for up to 48 hours in the past seven days and could face another 48 hours loss this week after one person became infected with Covid-19.
Track and trace resulted in four other members of a five-person crew having to isolate as a result – leaving the station undermanned without a full time crew for up to four day shifts and four night shifts.
Colin Brown of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) said: “While it is obviously necessary for those who were in contact with the affected person to isolate for the required period, now 10 days rather than 14, it has left Balmossie fire station without the number of fire fighters required to provide full time cover.”
Colin said that over a 10-day period the station will have been without full cover for up to 92 hours.
The station has had the use of retained staff during that time.
Colin said: “Our primary concern is with the health and wellbeing of our members, we are hopeful that by the end of this week the period of isolation will be up and the shifts will return to normal, however, that cannot be guaranteed.”
Colin said the situation was made worse due to a Scottish Fire Rescue Service (SFRS) decision to allow a reduction in the number of firefighters on fire appliances from five to four to help with social distancing.
Colin said: “Whilst the FBU support the SFRS in their attempts to protect our members from Covid-19, we cannot support decisions that replace one risk with another.
“The decision to allow a reduction in crew numbers and the removal, temporary or otherwise, of a front-line fire appliance puts firefighters and the public at increased risk.
“It is our belief that on this occasion the SFRS have not exhausted all available options, such as using overtime, to ensure full operational fire cover for the Broughty Ferry area.”
Local councillor Craig Duncan said he was concerned that the situation could result in potential harm to members of the public should a local incident require the use of the Balmossie appliance to get to the scene quickly.
Mr Duncan said: “I have written to SFRS looking for answers about what is actually going on and asking for reassurances that Balmossie is still able to provide adequate cover in the event of an incident.
“I have also asked when the service will be able to return to normal and how long this situation is going to continue.”
The SFRS confirmed there had been a positive Covid-19 test at Balmossie Fire Station.
A spokesman added: “Colleagues are now self-isolating in line with instructions from the NHS Test and Protect scheme. We are offering them our fullest support.
“SFRS has robust arrangements in place for any staff experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and we are continuing to monitor this situation and follow guidance set out by Health Protection Scotland.
“SFRS routinely distributes its resources flexibly to ensure effective operational cover is maintained in response to operational demands and other business requirements and has developed these arrangements to ensure the service can effectively manage the impact of COVID-19.
“We would like to reassure the community that their safety is our highest priority and that emergency cover is being maintained across the area.”