This article was reproduced with the kind permission
of the British Broadcasting Corporation
16 November 2007, 11:59 GMT
The project has been jointly set up by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service and the Red Cross.
A specially adapted vehicle can now be taken to fires, floods and car crashes. It has been designed for people who have been moved out of their homes.
The vehicle contains seating, a toilet and drink making facilities. It carries extras from nappies to cat litter.
The service will initially be offered in the Lothians, Borders and Fife but it is hoped it could be expanded across Scotland.
Night time service
Volunteers from the Red Cross will staff the facility and provide emotional and practical support to fire victims.
More than 30 people have signed up to help provide the cover.
Red Cross operations director, David Miller, said: "Often people have lost everything, with their only possessions being the clothes they stand up in.
In the middle of all the chaos of crashed cars and fire and police vans
flashing, our van provided them with an oasis of calm
"Sometimes they need practical help - sorting out insurance or somewhere temporary to stay.
"In other cases people may just need somewhere quiet and a reassuring presence to help them recover."
The unit will be based at Tollcross Fire Station in Edinburgh and be available throughout the night.
It came into use early when it was used at a major pile-up on the M8 at Livingston.
Paramedic Donna Kane, who was at the incident, said: "In the middle of all the chaos of crashed cars and fire and police vans flashing, our van provided them with an oasis of calm.
"One of the officers even told us it was just like being at home."