This morning I attended a meeting of the Tayside Fire and Rescue Board in Perth. This was a very interesting meeting which also highlighted some of the forthcoming issues which face us. I asked a number of questions. On Expenditure Monitoring I asked for more details of the underspend reported on staff costs. I was told that there was an element of slippage which is a result of non-filling of vacancies as a result of the Fire Board not knowing the budget settlement yet.
The Quarterly Activity Report is well worth looking at as it outlines much of the work of Tayside Fire and Rescue. My colleague Bailie Helen Wright asked a very important question about how we deal with hoax and malicious calls. I am clear that we must do everything we can to deal with this issue. It puts firefighters and the general public at risk, if firefighters are dealing with hoaxes they cannot deal with real fires.
The Deputy Chief Fire Officer gave a very interesting presentation on Home Fire Safety Visits. Please contact Tayside Fire and Rescue if you would like a Home Fire Safety Visit.
There was a report on Collaborative Working Between Tayside Police and Tayside Fire and Rescue this is a crucial report to the future of the service. I support partnership working and Tayside Fire and Rescue is involved in many innovative partnerships which are to be commended. I asked whether it was wise to go down this road given the apparent national uncertainty about the organisation of fire and rescue and indeed police services. I also asked about how the workers and trade unions will be involved bringing forward these proposals. I was told that in terms of the organisation and lack of budget information it is important to move forward. I was told that the trade unions will be involved in bringing forward these proposals. I will be keeping a close eye on these proposals as they are brought forward.
We also agreed the consultation process for the Towards a Safer Tayside 2011/12, I urge anyone with an interest in these services to look out for this report and respond. I was also reassured by the Chief Fire Officer's statement that the Aerial Rescue Pump we are ordering, unlike ones purchased elsewhere such as Lothian and Borders and Central it is fit for purpose.