HM Fire Service Inspectorate: local area inspection report - Argyll and Bute

Details of the result of an inspection by HMFSI of SFRS service delivery within the local authority area of Argyll and Bute including findings and recommendations.

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2 About The Area

Figure 1: Scottish council area boundaries.

14. Argyll and Bute is the area shaded in blue. It covers an area of around 6,909 km2. The area has the third sparsest population density of the 32 Scottish local authority areas, with an average population density of 13 persons per square kilometre. Argyll and Bute has 23 inhabited islands, more than any other local authority in Scotland, with around 17% of the population living on islands. It has a border with the local authority areas of Highland, Perth and Kinross, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire. In terms of the SFRS organisation structure, Argyll and Bute is within the West SDA.

15. Argyll and Bute is divided into 11 council wards each represented jointly by three elected members.

16. The population of Argyll and Bute at the end of June 2019 was 85,870[1], making it the 27th highest populated of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland. This is a decrease of 0.5% from 86,260 in 2018. Between 1998 and 2019, the 25 to 44 age group saw the largest percentage decrease (-34.1%). The 65 to 74 age group saw the largest percentage increase (+38.6%). Around 1.6% of the Scottish population reside in Argyll and Bute. The percentage of the population aged 65 and over, at 25.9%, is more than the overall percentage for Scotland of 19.1% in that age band. The ethnicity of the population of Argyll and Bute as at the 2011[2] census was classified as 98.8% white (Scottish White: Other British White: Irish White: Other) and 0.6 % Asian, Asian Scottish or Asian British, with a further 0.6% classing themselves as another ethnic group.

17. There are various operational risks in the area, including roads, railways, harbours and ferry ports; various commercial, industrial, military, and heritage risks.

18. here are 39 fire stations in Argyll and Bute. The locations are shown in Figure 2. Table 1 shows the fire station duty system, the resources based there and incident activity.

Figure 2: Location of fire stations in Argyll and Bute. Source: SFRS.
Table 1: Argyll and Bute fire station information. Source: SFRS.
Fire station Duty system** Appliances Activity* 2019/20
Appin Volunteer Volunteer Support Unit 23
Ardfern Volunteer Volunteer Support Unit 8
Arrochar RDS Rescue pump 50
Bowmore RDS Rescue pump 99
Bridge of Orchy Volunteer Volunteer Support Unit 7
Bunessan Volunteer Volunteer Support Unit 12
Campbeltown RDS Multi-pump 249
Carradale Volunteer Volunteer Support Unit 8
Colintraive Volunteer Non-mobile 0
Coll VDS Volunteer Support Unit 0
Colonsay VDS Volunteer Support Unit 11
Cove RDS Rescue pump 26
Craignure VDS Rapid Response Unit 26
Dalmally VDS Volunteer Support Unit 13
Dunoon RDS Multi-pump 318
Garelochhead RDS Multi-pump 64
Gigha VDS Volunteer Support Unit 2
Helensburgh Wholetime / RDS Multi-pump 401
Inveraray RDS Rescue pump 69
Iona VDS Volunteer Support Unit 47
Jura VDS Volunteer Support Unit 1
Kerrara VDS 4x4 vehicle 0
Kilmeford VDS Rapid Response Unit 3
Lismore VDS Volunteer Support Unit 5
Lochgilphead RDS Rescue pump 131
Lochgoilhead VDS Volunteer Support Unit 6
Luing VDS Volunteer Support Unit 3
Minard VDS Rapid Response Unit 7
Oban Wholetime / RDS Multi-pump, Water Rescue, Height 426
Port Charlotte VDS Rapid Response Unit 26
Port Ellen VDS Volunteer Support Unit 33
Rothesay RDS Multi-pump 225
Salen VDS 4x4 vehicle 11
Seil VDS 4x4 vehicle 2
Strachur VDS Volunteer Support Unit 21
Tarbert RDS Rescue pump 92
Tighnabruaich RDS Rescue pump 21
Tiree VDS Volunteer Support Unit 39
Tobermory RDS Multi-pump 96

* This is the number of times that an appliance from the fire station attended an incident – it is not an indication of the number of turnouts. The IRS data on which the activity totals are based exclude mobilisations which did not result in a direct incident attendance, for example, stand-by or where the appliance was turned back.

** Wholetime crewed appliances are dual crewed with the exception of height appliances.


19. The SFRS has 471 staff posts in the area. 62 (13%) of the staff identify themselves as female.

Incident statistics

20. Table 2 shows the number and type of incidents attended by the SFRS in Argyll and Bute over a period of four years[4].

Table 2: Incidents in Argyll and Bute.
Incident type 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Primary fire 150 188 174 161
Secondary fire 122 80 120 153
Chimney fire 43 46 44 40
Road traffic collision 79 77 71 60
Other non-fire incident 208 228 261 232
False alarm (including non-fire false alarm) 972 1,117 1,176 1,201
Total incidents 1,574 1,736 1,835 1,847

Figure 3 below gives a visual reflection of the make-up of incidents within Argyll and Bute for the most recent available statistics, 2019/20.

Figure 3: Argyll and Bute incidents 2019/20.

21. Responding to false alarms represents 65% of all incidents attended by the SFRS in Argyll and Bute in 2019/20. Unwanted fire alarm signals (UFAS) from non-domestic premises made up 663 of these false alarms and therefore comprise 35.8% of all incidents.

22. The incident rates for 2019/20 are shown in Figure 4 benchmarked against the rates for Scotland. In Argyll and Bute the rates per population for primary fires, fire false alarms and non-fire incidents are higher than for Scotland, however, the rate for secondary fires is lower.

Figure 4: Incident rates per 100,000 population 2019/20 Argyll and Bute and Scotland.



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