FEARS that Moray could lose its fleet of high-quality fire engines once the new single service comes into force have been allayed.
Councillor Ron Shepherd, Moray Council’s representative on Grampian Fire and Rescue Service joint board, said he had concerns over the future of the vehicles.
He said: "We have the best fleet of fire appliances in Scotland, and possibly England as well.
"My concern is that they would be deployed to other areas throughout Scotland.
"This is one of the main issues raised with me by individuals and communities."
Councillor Shepherd added that there would be challenges ahead for the single services, but there was a consensus for the plans to go forward.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who was in Elgin on Thursday for an update on how local organisations are preparing for the introduction of the new single police and fire and rescue services, said that areas like Moray would benefit.
He also dismissed suggestions that the round-the-clock service at Elgin Fire Station would change to daytime operations only.
Mr MacAskill attended a meeting of the Grampian Pathfinder group, which brings together representatives of Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, Grampian Police and Moray Council – and Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Councils in other parts of Grampian – to develop and trial new local arrangements before the single forces go live on April 1 next year.
Councillor Shepherd is a member of the Pathfinder working group.
Mr MacAskill said that local provision was at the heart of the single services.
"The savings are huge – £1.4 billion over the next 15 years. But there are opportunities for an improved force in what is already an excellent service," he said.
He added: "What we are planning to do is redeploy (equipment) into areas such as these (Moray), and the changes we are making will preserve front-line services so that communities have access to specialist resources that are needed.
"I have been Justice Secretary for five years, and when I started, I never thought there would be terrorist action at Glasgow Airport, but there was."
He quashed a suggestion that Moray’s only 24-hour fire and rescue station, in Elgin, would only be manned through the day because of the introduction of the single service.
Mr MacAskill said: "That is a matter for the chief fire officer. But it seems to me that Elgin is the hub of fire and rescue in the area, albeit supported by other units across Moray."
Moray will retain the divisional heads of the police and fire services, and there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the reorganisation.