AVERAGE response times to fire alerts in Scotland have increased by more than 20 per cent in the last 10 years - sparking a furious response from an Ayrshire MSP.

Figures obtained under freedom of information show the median time for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to respond to 'life risk only' incidents is nearly a minute and a half later than it was in 2013 – from seven minutes and nine seconds, to eight minutes and 36 seconds.

Katy Clark says that since the service was centralised in 2013, around £64 million has been cut from the SFRS budget in real terms, leading to more than 1,200 jobs being cut.

A report published in October by the Fire Brigades Union described the service as being crisis, citing “insufficient staffing levels, inadequate and out of date equipment, crumbling infrastructure, an aggressive management culture, falling training standards and an ageing workforce exposed to dangerous contaminants”.

Ms Clark, a former North Ayrshire MP who now represents the West Scotland region for Scottish Labour, said: “These stats show the terrifying extent to which Scotland’s fire service has been run into the ground.

“It’s now indisputable that the Scottish Government’s cuts to the fire service have made the public more unsafe."

Ms Clark, who is her party's spokesperson on community safety at Holyrood, continued: "As jobs and appliances have been cut, average response times to life threatening incidents have increased by nearly a minute and a half.

"This could be the difference between life and death.

“Despite this mounting crisis, this year’s Programme for Government made no reference to these challenges whatsoever. The public deserves better.

“Nothing less than an emergency response is now needed to support a service that is on its knees.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Despite deeply challenging financial circumstances due to the UK Government settlement, the Budget for next year includes £393.4 million for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – an increase of  £29.3 million.

"This will enable SFRS to continue their excellent job and deliver the high standard of services required to keep our communities safe.”