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16 October 2017, 06:26
People in rural areas with specialist skills, vehicles or equipment are being invited to sign up to an "innovative" partnership with firefighters.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has created a Community Asset Register (CAR), a database of people in isolated areas with assets such as boats and 4x4s or specialist skills in fields like mountain rescue.
It means volunteers can now be quickly identified through the register, which can be activated by fire control rooms during a serious emergency, such as widespread flooding, to enhance the service's response.
The register will also be available to local authorities and the other emergency services.
The fire service said a number of volunteers with access to private vehicles that can be used to cross water or negotiate rough terrain have already signed up.
It is now issuing a rallying call to others in remote areas who have specialist skills or own an all-terrain vehicle to join the scheme and help protect their communities.
People with buildings that can offer a temporary base to emergency workers or warmth and shelter to people displaced from their homes are also being welcomed.
Bruce Farquharson, the area manager leading the project, said: "The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service exists to save lives and will always respond to every emergency with the right resources, in the right place - at the right time.
"But we always look for new and innovative, dynamic but nonetheless appropriate partnerships wherever possible to absolutely ensure the safety of our communities.
"The Community Asset Register is yet another example of this spirit, calling upon those with specialist skills, vehicles and equipment to work alongside ourselves to keep people safe - because sometimes minutes can be not only precious but vital.
"The ideal person is someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in their field and handling their equipment. We are talking about, for example, white water rafters, mountaineers and 4x4 enthusiasts, but there are other possibilities.
"These are everyday volunteers with a very keen community spirit - people who might also have access to useable buildings which can cater for large numbers of emergency personnel or displaced people in need of temporary warmth and shelter.
"We encourage anyone with these qualities who wish to give something back to their community to come forwards."
Potential applicants will go through a "rigorous" registration process before being added to the live register and will have their equipment checked for safety.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is the largest within the UK and covers some of the UK's most rural areas, such as the Highlands and Islands, Argyle and Bute and Dumfries and Galloway.
Those interesed in volunteering should register an interest with SFRS.CommunityAssetRegister@firescotland.gov.uk