Firefighters in Scotland are to be consulted on strike action over a “devastating package of cuts” according to their union.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will begin consulting members on taking strike action in opposition to the cuts the union said has been imposed by the Scottish Government.

A projected, five-year, flat cash budget, in place until 2027, has already removed 10 whole-time fire engines and 150 retained appliances are regularly unavailable due to significant recruitment and retention issues, the union said.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) announced that they will need to save a minimum of £14 million next year which could result in the loss of a further 339 firefighters and 18 fire engines with more to come.

Scotland has lost 1,200 frontline firefighters since 2012, the union has claimed.

A consultation marks the first step towards firefighters taking strike action and a formal strike ballot could follow.

The Herald:

The union believes the announcement, on the eve of the SNP’s party conference in Aberdeen, could “pile pressure” on First Minister Humza Yousaf to intervene.

A demonstration will also be held at the Scottish Parliament on October 26.

John McKenzie, Fire Brigades Union regional secretary, said: “The cuts we are seeing imposed by the Scottish Government are a threat to the lives, homes and livelihoods not just of firefighters, but of everyone in Scotland.

“They will rob Scotland of the firefighters and equipment we need to keep our communities safe.

“Speaking to firefighters across Scotland, it is clear to us that there is a determined mood among members. After 10 years of cuts, our service cannot take any more.

“The public will not forgive the SNP Government if they allow this to end in strike action.”

In the summer, firefighters from across Scotland gathered on George Square to protest against the planned budget cuts with the message that they would have “no other option” other than to take strike action.

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Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: “As the SNP gather for their party conference, firefighters have a message for the Scottish Government.

“These cuts are a threat to the safety of everyone in Scotland, and the Fire Brigades Union has a duty to oppose them.

“Firefighters do not move towards strike action lightly. The intransigence of the Scottish government has led things to where they are now, but it still has time to reverse course.

“The Scottish Government needs to listen to those in the front line of this vital service.”

The Herald:

Stuart Stevens, deputy chief officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Any permanent changes now or in the future will only be made following full engagement and consultation with all our stakeholders, including the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

“Like all public services, we are operating in a challenging financial period and our modelling indicates that we will need to save between £37 and £48 million over the next three years.

“In addressing our financial challenges, we also must modernise as a service to ensure we are best placed to meet the changing risk and demand we face across Scotland.

“We will continue to work in partnership with the FBU and other representative bodies around any impact of potential savings that the Service may have to consider.”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Firefighters play a vital role in protecting our communities and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has continued to deliver the high standard of services required to keep Scotland safe.

“That is why, despite difficult financial circumstances due to UK Government austerity, we are providing SFRS with more than £368 million this year, an increase of £14.4 million on 2022-23.

“While recruitment and retention of firefighters is an operational matter for SFRS, we are maintaining frontline services, with a higher number of firefighters in Scotland than other parts of the UK.

“Strikes are in no-one’s interests and ministers will continue engaging with the FBU to discuss their concerns.”