THE SNP minister for Scotland’s fire services has been urged to apologise after staff shortages forced the closure of a fire station in her own constituency.

Marionville Community Fire Station shut down all Saturday because there were not enough crew to operate its single fire engine, it has emerged

The station is in Edinburgh Eastern, the seat of community safety minister Ash Denham, whose official responsibilities include “fire and rescue services”.

The Fire Brigades Union said the closure was a symptom of the “biggest staffing shortage in a generation”, with vehicle numbers halved in many Edinburgh stations as a result.

Because two firefighters were off sick on Saturday, their three colleagues at Marionville were redeployed elsewhere.

The nearby McDonald Road station was also down to one of two fire engines, and its high ladder unstaffed, further reducing the service in the north and east of the Capital.

John McKenzie, East of Scotland secretary for the FBU, said it was “unprecedented” for the Restalrig and Craigentinny districts served by Marionville to be without their fire station.

He said: “Obviously there’s an increased risk to public safety. The current situation is completely unacceptable. Morale on stations is at rock bottom.”

Mr McKenzie said the crisis has left duty officers “dreading” shifts.

He said: “We have members at the station who have been in service for up to nearly 30 years who have simply never seen anything like this before.

“They are embarrassed at what this service has been reduced to. Levels of fire cover are being reduced on a daily basis which inevitably increases the risk to local communities.

“How can emergency fire provision be provided when fire engines are left unstaffed and stations left closed?”

Edinburgh Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “This is a deeply troubling development that points to the price communities are paying as a result of SNP mismanagement of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“It is even more galling that this closure is in SNP community safety minister Ash Denham’s own constituency.

“If Ms Denham cannot protect local lifeline services in her constituency, what hope is there for vital facilities in the rest of the country?

“She should intervene to stop this closure or, if she is powerless to do so, apologise to her constituents whose safety is being put at risk.”

Ms Denham said: “Operational decisions on the local allocation of resources are a matter for the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service board and chief officer. Since the reform of the fire service, there have been no compulsory redundancies and no station closures.

“The fact is we have increased the spending capacity of SFRS, with £15.5m this year for their transformation plans. That includes £5.5m in extra direct funding and ensuring they keep in full £10m from VAT costs – as well as increased capital funding of £21.7m for 2017-18. The SFRS is the only fire service in the UK to receive this level of additional funing.

“The SFRS are currently negotiating a new pay deal for firefighters to reflect their flexible role. I encourage all involved in those talks to reach a fair deal as soon as possible.”