Fire chiefs remove 'offensive' saltire from engines after complaints

A firefighter has claimed that his bosses have removed the saltires from new engines following two complaints.


A firefighter claims Grampian Fire & Rescue Service (GFRS) chiefs have removed the saltire from two new appliances after complaints which branded the use of the national flag "offensive".

The Aberdeen-based firefighter said he was "disgusted" at the manner in which GFRS had responded to two complaints, one internal and the other from a member of the public, less than four months after the national emblem was unveiled on the front grille of the fire engines.

It is understood the complaints centred around the saltire's link to the SNP and fears the flag could be viewed as a sign of support for Scottish independence.

But Grampian Fire and Rescue said the move was simply to bring the two appliances into line with the rest of the fleet.

The fireman, who did not wish to be identified, said: "One of the complaints stated that they were offended as the flag was now a sign of pro-Scottish independence. So they took the rash decision to remove them immediately.

"Having spoken with members of the transport department, it was 100% a decision by the corporate team due to complaints received.

"They were all very happy and proud of the flags, and were dismayed as everyone else. It was not due to keeping the fleet in line."

The new engines, which cost just over £200,000 each, were given the saltire logo in advance of Scotland's eight fire brigades being merged into one unitary authority next spring.

When they were unveiled in August, Grampian's fleet manager Raymond Cheyne said: "The badging for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is needed because of the new single Scottish service coming into being next April.

"We wanted to celebrate the new Scottish Service coming into place so chose to use the saltire. We've used high-visibility striping to make it part of the functional design of the appliance."

However, when contacted by STV News over the removal of the Saltires, Mr Cheyne stated: "I don't want to comment."

Aberdeen SNP MSP Kevin Stewart reacted furiously to the decision and said Scots should be proud of the flag which represents everybody in their nation.

He said: "If this is the case, it is absolutely disgraceful. We must be the only country in the world which seems to be ashamed of displaying their national flag. The Saltire is a symbol for all Scots.

"So it is lunacy that some people are objecting to something like this. And a bit daft."

A spokesman for Grampian Fire and Rescue said the decision had been implemented because the new Saltire-bearing engines "didn't fit in with the rest of the fleet".

However, the unnamed firefighter said that personnel were "very unhappy" that their bosses had bowed to a small number of complaints and chosen "not to celebrate national pride."

Jim Thorburn, a former fireman with the Grampian service, who worked for the force for 30 years agreed. He said he was astonished there were problems with the saltire appearing on fire appliances.

He said: "A complaint was made and the saltires were taken off the engines, because somebody claimed to be offended.

"Why on earth should anybody be offended by a Scottish flag? The people who work for the emergency services are working to keep people in Scotland safe. Aren't they allowed to show a little pride in the country where they live?

"The operational guys can't say anything about this, but I know many of them are unhappy with the way the matter has been handled. But I'm retired, so they can't touch me."

Your report: If you have information on this or any other story, please let us know. You can send information, pictures to STV or call us on 01224 848915.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.


Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.