THE move to a single fire service was managed seamlessly, the country's most senior firefighter has claimed.

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay, of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), said that there had been no "­detrimental impact" to frontline service delivery following the merger of eight services into one in April last year.

Mr Hay said there had been an "improved, more ­equitable spread of specialist resources throughout the country".

He added: "The transition to a single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was managed seamlessly with no detrimental impact to frontline service delivery and means we are in a better position to face the financial challenges of a decreasing public sector budget.

"Operating without boundaries helps ensure the right equipment and personnel are in the right place at the right time based on the specific risks and needs of every local community in Scotland."

Marking the recent first anniversary of the service, he spoke of major incidents to hit emergency services in the past year, such as the Clutha traged.

He said: "We all saw the courage, skill and professionalism of our urban search and rescue teams following the Clutha tragedy; they and other specialist resources, like our swift-water rescue teams on the Clyde, are always ready to respond to emergencies."

Scotland has seen a fall in house fires as frontline crews have increasingly ­focused on preventing fires. Figures show they have dropped by 41% since 1990.

Officers carried out more than 56,000 free home safety visits throughout Scotland last year.

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, the SFRS ­director of prevention and protection, said: "It is absolutely clear that efforts to reduce the threat of fire are saving lives and we need the public to help ensure that trend continues.

"Our crews are dedicated to providing the advice and support people need to ­prevent tragedies."

It was pointed out that ­local firefighters have been working with communities, as well as the public and the private sector, to prevent fires and address ­social issues.

Chairman of the SFRS Board, Pat Watters, said that "great care" was taken to ensure the national service was driven by and responsive to local needs.