Councillors will be warned not to be complacent over figures that show the instances of deliberate fire-raising in Moray has fallen dramatically in recent years.
Members of the Moray Police and Fire committee will be told on Wednesday that fires started deliberately in the region have fallen by 40% over a four-year reporting period – but such fires remain the cause of a high percentage of Fire and Rescue Service callouts in the region.
“Evidence reflects that deliberate fires are a significant problem in specific areas that can be closely linked to anti-social behaviour,” the report before the committee will say.
And while the report appears to indicate that the new joint Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will see a positive effect in Moray, the chairman of the committee, Fochabers councillor Douglas Ross, remains unconvinced that is the case.
“I think it is too early to say that,” Councillor Ross said, adding: “It is less than a year since the single force was formed, we have seen functions that used to benefit Moray removed from the north-east of Scotland. It would be worrying if that trend were to continue.”
The new joint Scottish service has already revealed that control rooms in Scotland will be reduced from eight to just three – with those in Aberdeen and Inverness both scheduled for closure with overall control switching to Dundee.
That, according to the fire service, will bring about savings of £4.5million – but Councillor Ross pointed out that the report for Wednesday’s committee makes no mention of a reduction in staff numbers.
He said: “It has always been a worry that at some point in the future resources and personnel could be pulled to the more populated areas. That means we will be left with fewer firefighters – and that is something I’m sure everyone in Moray will want to avoid.”