City firefighters' expertise really is down to a fine art

THE disastrous fire which gripped Glasgow's School of Art last week was reported around the world.

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This iconic building and its contents are truly one of Glasgow's great treasures.

Fortunately, the distribution of fire stations around that area of the city is extensive.

Indeed, firefighters from Cowcaddens, Yorkhill, Calton, Maryhill and Springburn would all have responded within just a few minutes of the original calls.

Given the significance of the building, these firefighters would have also had the benefit of having detailed plans of the School of Art on board their fire appliances.

This information would have been provided in a digital 3-D format, on screens, both in the front and rear of their machines, which allowed the firefighters to pre plan and prioritise their actions, before they arrived.

In addition, all the firefighters who would have attended the building first, would also have visited and walked around the building some five times per year, in order to effectively preplan for just such an emergency.

For centuries, the fire service in Glasgow has led the world, both in its use of technology and in its dedication and professionalism.

It has set the bar high for colleagues across the rest of Scotland.

The bravery and tenacity of Glasgow's firefighters saved a large part of the building and its contents, protecting this treasure from further damage, preserving it for future generations.

I remain tremendously proud of our firefighters, well done, take a bow.

As for the restoration of the School of Art, I trust that a beautiful Phoenix may emerge from its ashes.

As with all good art, it will not be the building we look at that matters, rather, what we see.

ALL the political posturing which took place this week in relation to the price of independence, or at least its associated costs, added little to the debate about whether or not Scotland would be better off as an independent country.

The UK Treasury has stated that it believes the average Scot will be some £1400 worse off.

This is because more money is spent per head of population in Scotland than the rest of the UK.

They have also cited extensive start-up costs and are indicating that the dividend from remaining with in the Union is worth around £1400.

Those in the Yes campaign put forward a counter argument which suggests that there would be an independence bonus, with each Scot some £1000 better off in the next 15 years.

This assessment is built on assumptions of growth, population increase and predictions about the cost and value of North Sea oil.

It is important for us all to understand that these figures, represent little more than political projection.

They are the figures that both campaigns would like us to believe, but are they factual?

Both campaigns used the services of academics to lend credibility to their assertions.

Given the assumptions made on both sides, the predictions being made and the accuracy of future projections, it is difficult to see where the real value has been added to the debate.

This area will however prove a consistent battleground in the next few months.

Perhaps it's time that we moved the focus of the debate away from what independence may cost?

To what it may be worth.

I SAW the adverts this week, for the sale of the final batch of tickets for Glasgow 2014. It looks as though the games will be a complete sell out which is fantastic news.

With tickets

priced around £15-£30 for most of the events, this truly could become the people's games.

I was therefore rather disappointed to see that the tickets for both the opening and closing ceremonies were priced out with the affordability of many of our citizens.

These tickets are for sale, ranging in price from £40, right up through £180 to a top price of £250.

The tickets, will of course be taken up by corporate sponsors, and local people, inconvenienced by the arrangements for staging the games, will watch on TV.

I trust, that unlike London 2012, there will be no blocks of empty seats.

That would really get the hackles up for most Glaswegians.

The people's games? I do hope so, let's make sure it's the right people.

THE European elections certainly threw up a great deal of controversy.

UKIP swept the board across England and doubled their share of the vote in Scotland.

This, in a week where the British Social Attitudes Survey saw some one third of our population admit to being racist, on some level.

Across Europe, we saw similar lurches to the right in France and to the left, in Greece.

There is undoubtedly momentum with those who appear disillusioned with mainstream politics across Europe.

This may be more perception than fact, yet it is important that we listen.

The bureaucracy of the European Union is ripe for reform and it is important that there is now an in/out referendum within the United Kingdom.

I remain pro-European, however I do not believe that denying people a choice, on our engagement with Europe, will prove productive.

The EU is beginning to look rather Imperial, somewhat out of touch and perhaps, a little unjust. Let us ensure that we reform Europe in a way that makes clear that its demise, would always remain more concerning, than liberating.

Fire

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