The fire service told the Scottish Government of issues it was facing related to collapse-prone concrete in 2019, an email uncovered by the Scottish Liberal Democrats has shown.
As a result of a freedom of information request, the party has released correspondence which shows the service reported 15 roofs in fire stations had been found to contain planks made of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) as of August 30, 2019.
The email said: “Currently of 31 reports from inspections, we have confirmed 15 roofs are of a Raac plank structure and full intrusive and thermographic surveys are being organised.”
Three stations, it continued, contained “areas of concern” – Dalkeith, Liberton and Livingston – with the latter’s issue being reported in the appliance bay, which was “placed out of bounds”, forcing fire engines to reverse into the station.
As of this year, Raac has been identified in 14 buildings owned by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions, Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “I have here a freedom of information request which shows the fire service contacted the Scottish Government four years ago about having to prop-up station ceilings because of dangerous concrete.
“Fire station roofs were the canary in the coal mine for the concrete crisis now affecting schools and hospitals, and yet the Government were nowhere on this.
“Not telling Parliament, ignoring it internally, even cutting budgets.
“Firefighters run towards danger on every job, they shouldn’t have to face it when they return to base.”
Responding, First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “What we have been doing and many of our public bodies and local authorities have been doing, of course, is following the guidance of the Institute of Structural Engineers – it’s really important that we continue to align ourselves with that important guidance.
“Of course, where Raac has been found, in the vast, overwhelming majority of cases it is my understanding that appropriate mitigations have been put in place.”
Mr Cole-Hamilton also raised pleas from the fire service for £70 million for works to mitigate the risks presented by Raac, “but ministers actually cut their capital budget in real terms”.
The First Minister said he met with the Scottish Trades Union Congress this week, including representatives of the Fire Brigades Union, where they made “a passionate plea” for more financing.
“I will of course give those calls absolute consideration, as will the Deputy First Minister when we are working on the Budget next month,” he said.
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