Fire service calls reach eight-year high


- Credit: Archant

The number of fire call-outs in Avon rose to an eight-year high last year, with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) concerned politicians have become ‘complacent’ about cuts.

Firefighters in Avon attended more than 30 incidents a day on average, from April 2018 to March 2019, new figures show.

The FBU is deeply concerned by the significant rise in fires across England following 'massive cuts' to fire and rescue services.

There were 605 full-time equivalent firefighters employed by Avon as of March. This was a drop of 16 per cent compared to 2015, when there were 724.

The number of incidents attended by the service increased by 1,596 that year compared to 2015 - a 15 per cent increase - bringing the total to 12,353. Of the call-outs, 3,444 were non-fire incidents - 28 per cent of the total.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "We are deeply concerned that, after massive cuts to fire safety officers and years of fire safety deregulation, there has been a significant increase in fires in England.

"We have warned of the impact of climate change on fire for the past decade, but the Government has failed to listen.

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"Long, dry summers are making fires more likely, while firefighters are responding to a huge number of floods and other non-fire incidents across the country.

"Westminster has been utterly complacent about fire safety for years and it is clearly taking its toll.

"We urgently need to invest in fire and rescue services and to radically boost firefighter recruitment - people's lives, homes, businesses, and communities are at stake."

Avon's figures reflect the trend across England, where the number of incidents has risen to a five-year high.

There were more than 576,000 incidents across the country in the 12 months to March, an increase of more than 16 per cent.

The number of firefighters meanwhile has fallen by 10 per cent since 2015, from 35,925 to 32,233.

Responding to a recent parliamentary question on firefighter numbers, Kit Malthouse, then minister for crime, policing and the fire service, said he was confident fire and rescue services have the resources they need.

He continued: "Operational decisions are for each fire and rescue authority to make as part of the integrated risk management planning process, and it is for individual fire and rescue services to make decisions on the number of firefighters they employ."