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Latheron, Lybster & Clyth Community Council
Fire Action Group

6 May 05
Is Caithness Witnessing The End Of Lybster Fire Unit?

Marshall Bowman On Behalf Of Community Council Praises Convenor David Flear's Last Ditch Attempt To Allow The Local Unit To Continue Saving Lives In Fires

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.

21 March 05
Latheron Lybster and Clyth Fire Action Group
21 March, 2005

Firemaster Mr Brian Murray
H&I Fire Brigade
16 Harbour Road
Longman West

Dear Sir
I write you to express great concern, yet again, regarding the current situation of fire cover in the area covered by the local Community Council.

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.
“Where were the Lybster crew?”
“Why were they not called out?”
“Why is it good enough to call them out at 3.20am in one situation but not page them for the other?”
“The volunteer units such as Lybster are reprieved until June (at present) so why are they not getting the shout for such incidents?”

“Were Lybster called out in the first case (13/3) as a second thought because Dunbeath were not initially responding?”
The more cynical members of the public think there is a conspiracy theory at work here and the decision not to call the local crew was retribution for the poor publicity the Brigade had earlier in the week over the erroneous letter issue. Personally, I would hope this was not the case but………?

Answers to the above questions must surely be given.
The Community Council, the local Fire Action Group, and I, look forward to your response to this matter.


Marshall Bowman
Latheron Lybster and Clyth Fire Action Group

15 February 05
Fire Expert On Holiday Responds
Dr Dennett a fire expert was on holiday when he read the Fire Action Group secretary's letter in the John O'Groat Journal and responded with the letter below


Response From Bill Fernie Sent To Fire Consultation

13 February 05
Last chance To Have Your Say In Consultation

The deadline for responses ends today Sunday 13 Feb
The public can send responses up until 5.00pm today

6 February 05
Evidence Shows Lybster Fire Unit Needed To Fight House Fires

The Fire Action Group Are worried about the implications of being dependent on Dunbeath and Wick units and want to be allowed to attend fires in the area as previously.
Our organisation has been able to find out that in the last year the unit which is expected to respond quickest to a fire in Lybster, namely, Dunbeath is regularly experiencing problems in finding a crew.
In the last year Dunbeath was summoned on 30 call outs, over half, which were to attend incidents in the Lybster patch. Many, but not all of these, were for RTAs, which of course Lybster in the “wisdom” of the Fire Brigade are not allowed to attend. Only 6 call outs in the year were for their own patch. 8 call outs were false alarms.

30 January 2005
Fire Action Group Questions Statements In The Review
In the near future if the Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade get their way there is the possibility of loss of properties and fatalities occurring in a village in Caithness because of the ridiculous decision to downgrade the local fire unit.  Lybster Fire crew have been informed that their services in attending house and property fires are no longer needed due to an Integrated Risk Management Plan which is due to come into effect on the 31st March.

What Are the Group Trying To Do?
This sub group of the community council has been looking at the problem of the potential downgrading of the Lybster Fire Unit.  Since December 2003 the Lybster fire Unit along with others in Highlands & Islands area has been under review.

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.

Will This Village Be At Increased Risk From Fire??

At Increased Risk?
Portland Hotel

Forse House - Care Home
Commercial Hotel
Streets Of Lybster
Waterlines Museum/Cafe