IN a month when expenses incurred by elected members across Scotland have been hitting the headlines, it was most informative to meet representatives of the Fire Brigades Union last week at the City Chambers.

This proved to be an extremely beneficial meeting for all elected members (cross-party) who took the trouble to attend. The representatives of Glasgow’s firefighters gave it to us straight and said: “We have been cut to shreds.”

These are the men and women who put their own lives and wellbeing on the line to save ours.

Like the police and health service workers there is an expectation among all of us that come the time we need them they will be there for us; so, when they give you the grim message above, then we have to take notice.

The firefighters have launched an awareness-raising campaign regarding the proposed removal of operational appliances and their crews.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), like most services across Scotland, has been asked to make further savings (that’s cuts to you and me) by the SNP/Green government.

This is on top of £45 million of cuts already endured by this most vital of public services.

Over the last 10 years these cuts have resulted in the loss of firefighter jobs, the closure of call control rooms and perhaps most worryingly, an increase in response time to incidents.

Those who know how quickly a fire can take hold, particularly in what was previously referred to as Tinderbox City, can only be very worried by those facts. The firefighters’ representatives said: “The Scottish Parliament was told that the amalgamation of Scotland’s regional fire services into one Scottish service in 2012 would not create cuts, but efficiencies. Since then, we have lost 1200 firefighters, five 999 control rooms and response times to incidents are up by 14%.

“This was all prior to 10 appliances being removed across Scotland in September, including fire appliances in Govan, Maryhill and Cowcaddens and the dedicated boat rescue team at Polmadie, as part of the most recent cuts.

“The chief officer of SFRS recently told the Justice Committee the draft Scottish Budget, due to be announced in December, would require another 18 appliances and over 300 firefighter posts to be cut, in order to hit that budget.

“Our members know that these cuts will cost lives.

“The FBU in Scotland calls upon the Scottish Government to properly fund our vital emergency service, reverse the cuts and give the people of Glasgow and the rest of the country the fire service they deserve.”

Stark words from an already embattled SFRS which is already massively underfunded.

Let’s be clear; this is not a pay claim or a dispute about overtime or terms and conditions, this is about the ability for the fire service to operate properly.

Only fools ignore the advice of those at the front line when they signal danger ahead, particularly when it is done from a public safety standpoint.

I do not blame the SFRS for having to look for ways to find cuts imposed on them by their political masters in Edinburgh. Politics is about making choices, often very difficult ones; but as we were reminded by our brave firefighters last Thursday, they should not be put in a position of choosing between their personal safety and that of the public.

Every last one of us depends on the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect ours so we should make sure, at the very least, that they are properly funded and equipped to do that job properly. No brainer.