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Fire Service Structure
The need for a fire-fighting service has existed since early history but it was only through the Fire Brigades Act of 1938 that a centrally co-ordinated service was put in place in Great Britain. That Act made it mandatory for local authorities to make arrangements for an effective fire service and at that time there were 185 fire brigades in Scotland. In 1941, as a consequence of the war, a National Fire Service was created that remained in place until the introduction of the Fire Services Act 1947, which returned the service to the control of local authorities. The number of brigades has since been more or less modified in line with successive local government reorganisations. However, following the introduction of single tier local authorities in 1996, the then existing structure of brigades was retained by creating additional joint boards. Currently, Scotland has the following eight brigades:
Central Scotland Fire Brigade
Fife Fire and Rescue Service
Grampian Fire Brigade
Highland and Islands Fire Brigade
Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade
Strathclyde Fire Brigade
Only two of which remain under unitary control, the other six coming under joint boards of between three to 12 constituent councils depending on the size of the area covered.
Each brigade covers a unique mixture of urban and rural communities, with population densities ranging from over 3,000 per square kilometre in the cities to 2 per square kilometre in the remote highlands.
For example, Fife Fire and Rescue Service covers a population of about 352,000 in a compact 1.7% of Scotland's total land area, whereas Highland and Islands Fire Brigade covers a smaller population, about 279,000 spread across nearly 40% of the total land area.
Fife can therefore be covered from 14 fire stations (6 whole-time and 8 retained) while in the Highland and Islands combined area there are: one whole-time station (Inverness), 31 retained stations and 95 volunteer units.