Firefighters warn cuts are now ‘damaging public safety’
THE number of people killed or hurt in house fires in Warwickshire has increased by nearly a quarter – with firefighters warning government cuts were now “damaging public safety”.
Home Office data published today shows 18 people were hurt in primary domestic fires in the county during the year to the end of March. A further one person died.
That total of deaths and nonfatal casualties is up by 18.8 per cent compared to the 14 injuries and two deaths in 2016/17.
The overall num- ber of house fires also rose, from 161 to 164. The data comes with the fire- fighters’ union warning that drastic budget cuts could have potentially fatal consequences. More than 10,000 firefighter posts have disappeared since 2010. And recent figures revealed the number of home fire safety checks had dropped by 24 per cent since then.
Across England, the number of domestic primary fires rose by 401, from 30,343 in 2016/17 to 30,744 in 2017/18. Primary fires mean they happened in a building that was not derelict at the time.
The number of people hurt in house fires rose from 5,365 to 5,447, while the number killed was up from 214 to 263. The fatality figures include the Grenfell Tower disaster, which took place during the most recent financial year. Some 72 people died in the blaze.
Dave Green, national officer for the Fire Brigades’ Union, said: “These dreadful new figures confirm firefighters’ worst fears.
“Austerity cuts are now damaging public safety. For years, politicians have slashed our service and excused their actions because long term improvements were still being made. Now their figures show the public is at greater risk. The Grenfell Tower fire should have been a wake-up call. The Westminster government should have reacted by investing in the fire and rescue service, but instead they just keep on cutting. Firefighters have lost complete confidence in this Tory government. They are putting the public at risk, while wrecking a wellrespected, professional public service.”
Andrew Scattergood, Regional Secretary for the Fire Brigades’ Union in the West Midlands and Warwickshire said: “If any further proof was needed that the devastating cuts to the fire service is having a catastrophic effect on public safety then we have it here. Warwickshire have had 11% of their firefighters axed since 2010 due to horrendous budget cuts and the worrying thing is that more cuts are on their way.
“Firefighters are trying their best to deliver the best service they can, but it is simply becoming impossible for them to do so through no fault of their own. Firefighters have been warning about this for years and their concerns have being repeatedly ignored. The simple reality is that cutting the fire service to the bone results in public safety being put at jeopardy.
“For the sake of public safety, the government need to reverse the damaging cuts to the fire service which are evidently putting the communities of Warwickshire at risk. The question to politicians is how many people have to die before they take our calls for investment and not more cuts seriously?”
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service respond Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Rob Moyney said: “Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service continually monitor incident numbers and trends. Whilst we recognise that locally there has been a small rise in certain incident types, which is mirrored nationally too, it is important to set these in context. The increase in house fire numbers was just three fires across the whole county through the year and the increase in injuries relate to four casualties.
“Warwickshire remains one of the safest parts of the whole country and has the second lowest rate of accidental house fires in England when the numbers of fires per 10,000 dwellings is compared. Whilst we are proud of this record, we are not complacent and are always looking to enhance both our prevention activities and emergency response arrangements to make the communities of Warwickshire safer.”
If further proof was needed that the devastating cuts are having a catastrophic effect on safety, we have it here.