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Latheron, Lybster &
Clyth Community Council
I fear this may be the last communication on the fire issue as the morale is rock bottom in the local crew and they are seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. The Community Council at the meeting of 5/5/05 publicly expressed its full sympathy with their sentiments but would like them to try to continue to serve the community in the much diminished and downgraded role in the hope that in a year's time things might pick up if the retained station plans for Dunbeath don't fully materialise and that the promised RTA vehicle is put on station.
Firemaster Mr Brian Murray
In the early hours of Sunday 13th March at approximately 3.20am the local volunteer crew were called out to a car fire in the village. They were on the scene within 4 minutes, had the fire located and under control before then booking in attendance, mainly due to the local unit only operating a makeshift portable radio. The situation was dealt with and was totally under control by the time Dunbeath arrived as would be expected given the distance involved.
On the evening of Wednesday 16th March another car fire took place in the driveway of a residential property. The occupants phoned for the Fire Brigade at approximately 10.15pm. They had to call again as they were fearful that no help was forthcoming. After some time Dunbeath appeared and dealt with the situation. In the time the occupants waited, the fire was so fierce that the plastic barge boards and gutter of the house, close to the car on fire, had started to melt and buckle. The other car in front by 5 feet, or so, was also fire damaged and in danger of exploding if the tank caught fire. The occupants had fully expected to see the local crew arrive and promptly deal with the situation. This was not the case. A tragedy was only avoided by the fact that there was no wind on this evening. This could so easily have escalated out of all control due to the fact that the first response unit was not paged. If Dunbeath had been much later the house would have been on fire. It should also be pointed out that had this fire occurred on the Sunday evening prior, then Dunbeath and Wick could not have responded as the A9 and A99 were closed due to adverse weather…. namely, drifting of lying snow and subsequent further heavy snow.
The local community are
asking the obvious questions.
“Were Lybster called out
in the first case (13/3) as a second thought because Dunbeath were not
Answers to the above
questions must surely be given.
What Are the Group
Trying To Do?
An Integrated Risk Management Strategy has been published. Responses from the public are asked for by 13 February 2005. However the local community feel that after two years this deadline is far too soon to give people time to respond.
Even though after this lengthy period of time and much debate between the local Lybster fire unit and Highlands and Islands Fire Master and the Fire Brigade committee it has recommended that the Lybster unit should only be allowed to attend heath fires and road accidents.
To be allowed to attend house fires the Fire Brigade management contend that Health and Safety regulations require that breathing Apparatus is available to men attending house fires something that was not the case in the past. The local unit contend they could attend without entering a building if it was considered too much of a risk as they always have done. Management has not accepted this.
Cover for house fires would have to come from Wick or Dunbeath taking somewhat longer than the local unit.
The Fire Action Group is to request that the deadline for responses to the consultation document is extended to allow people the time to read it and make a response.
The group are contacting MP. MSP's, the minister and local politicians to ask for their help in retaining the Lybster fire unit with at least the ability to attend fires and assess the risks. If small fires are found they might be able to deal with the situation from outside for example through a window and stop the fire units coming from Wick or Dunbeath and cover being required from Thurso saving perhaps up to 40 other men being called out.