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Scotland seeks emergency services volunteers

14 January 2020

Volunteers across Scotland who own 4x4s and all-terrain vehicles are being asked to help protect and support their communities – in a unique partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Members of the public who have access to private vehicles, knowledge or equipment that can be used to enhance response to emergencies are signing up to the Community Asset Register (CAR).

Those volunteers can be quickly identified through CAR which is operated and activated by Operations Control at times of significant emergency to enhance a full SFRS response.

The value of the CAR scheme came to the fore during major snowstorms in 2018 when specialists with 4x4 vehicles were mobilised alongside firefighters by Operations Control to reach stranded motorists and households during the “Beast from the East”.

The register also includes more unusual assets such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Robocut – a remote control tank which can chop down trees, climb 60 degree slopes and scythe through bushes and tall grass to stop a wildfire in its tracks.

The register is also available to SFRS’ emergency service colleagues and local authority partners.

Assistant chief officer John Dickie, director of response and resilience, said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service exists to save lives and we always look for new and innovative, dynamic but nonetheless appropriate partnerships wherever possible to absolutely ensure the safety of our communities.

“The Community Asset Register is yet another example of this spirit, calling upon those with specialist skills, vehicles and equipment to work alongside ourselves to keep people safe – because sometimes minutes can be not only precious but vital.

“The register really shows its value during weather related incidents where we have widespread impact such as flooding or snowstorms, where these members of the public can augment SFRS’ response.”

A rallying call has now been issued to others who live in some of our most rural areas, have specialist skills and who own their own transport - such as all-terrain vehicles - to follow in the footsteps of those who have already registered.

People with buildings that can offer a temporary base to emergency personnel or warmth and shelter to displaced members of the community are also welcomed.

ACO Dickie continued: “The ideal person is experienced and knowledgeable in their field and handling their equipment. We are talking about, for example, white water rafters, mountaineers and 4x4 enthusiasts but there are other possibilities.

“These are everyday volunteers with a very keen community spirit – people who might also have access to useable buildings which can cater for large numbers of emergency personnel or displaced people in need of temporary warmth and shelter.

“We encourage anyone with these qualities who wish to give something back to their community to come forwards.”

Potential applicants go through a rigorous registration process before being added to the live register – including checks that they are appropriately qualified to operate their asset and an inspection of their equipment to ensure it is safe to use.

Volunteers would not be obligated to attend an incident, and a full and appropriate SFRS response would be mobilised regardless of whether a volunteer is able to attend.

Volunteers who wish to offer their support should register an interest with SFRS.CommunityAssetRegister@firescotland.gov.uk