THE CURRENT head of Tayside Fire and Rescue, Alasdair Hay, has been appointed Scotland’s first national fire chief.
He will take charge of 9,000 firefighters and support staff and a £300 million-a-year revenue budget.
Mr Hay has promised that saving lives and community safety will remain his top priority despite government pressure to hit daunting savings targets. He has already been told he must cut £300 million from his budget over 15 years.
Mr Hay, a 50-year-old father of three, will earn £165,000 a year and will take on the national role in the autumn. The Scotland-wide service comes into being on April 1 next year – the same date as the new Police Service of Scotland.
Mr Hay believes the required savings are achievable and has promised to keep the Scottish Government’s promise of no compulsory redundancies. But he made it clear that saving lives comes first.
He said: “Community safety and firefighter safety are my priority as we go forward. But as we move to make those savings - and we have to make those savings - there’s going to be a rationalisation as to how we support the front line. I’m confident we are going to be able to make those savings and improve the service across Scotland.”
He continued: “The Scottish Government has a clear policy of no compulsory redundancies. All staff will transfer across to the new service come April.”
Some stations may be seen as unnecessary or not in the ideal location, when looked at in a national context.
Mr Hay’s appointment as Scotland’s first chief has been widely applauded.
Alan Paterson, chairman of the Fire Brigades Union in Scotland, said: “We welcome this announcement. It’s needed at this time in the reform process. We’ve worked well with him in the past and would expect to work well with him in the future.”
Roseanna Cunningham, community safety minister, announced the appointment on Thursday at Perth Community Fire Station which will be the interim headquarters for the new service. She said: “Mr Hay has the experience and attributes to be an outstanding first chief officer for the new single service.”