FIREFIGHTERS are joining forces with foodbank organisers to launch a groundbreaking scheme to save lives and ease the misery being suffered by cash-strapped families.

The new partnership will see fire crews providing free home safety visits to people who are struggling to put food on their table.

They will also show their support by donating goods that can be distributed to those in need.

The pilot project is being run in Renfrewshire and, if successful, will then be rolled out in East Renfrewshire.

John Divers, manager at Paisley fire station, came up with the idea in a bid to reach people who are at a higher risk of suffering a fire in their home.

He then approached Renfrewshire Foodbank manager Elizabeth Alexander, who was happy to help put his plans in motion.

Mr Divers said: “Those who are statistically at higher risk of fire don’t tend to contact us, so we are trying to get to them.

“I was going through Tesco one time and noticed how there was a trolley for food collections. It’s very sad that, in today’s society, people need to use foodbanks.

“I met with Elizabeth and gave her my thoughts. She was very helpful and mentioned that organisations like the Fire Service go down to Foodbanks and give advice.”

“If we can do what little we can to make a difference and help people who have fallen on hard times, then I would be quite happy with that.”

With fire incidents having risen by three per cent and foodbank use by 17 per cent across Scotland in the last few years, the need for the two services is greater than ever.

Crews at fire stations in Johnstone, Paisley and Renfrew will contribute to the pilot project.

Elizabeth, who works between foodbanks in Johnstone, Erskine, Paisley and Renfrew, said: “People who come to the foodbank are from many walks of life.

“When you’re in a crisis situation like that, important things like safety in your own home may go by the wayside because you are too busy just concentrating on surviving.

“If this partnership saves just one life, then it’s got to be worthwhile. Even if it’s just one life. If they are able to recommend changes and reduce the risk of fire, it will be so beneficial.”