9% Jump in Incidents
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has reacted to new figures on fires and fire deaths by describing both the rise in fires for the second year running and the rise in fatalities as ‘horrifying’.
Fire incidents have increased in England by 9% for the year ending September 2017, having already increased the previous year (2015-2016), amounting to over 170,500 fires.
The number of fire-related fatalities increased from 253 to 346, including 71 from the Grenfell Tower tragedy. There were almost 3,300 non-fatal casualties requiring hospital treatment, up by 138 on the previous 12 months, official figures showed.
These worrying increases have occurred against a backdrop of severe cuts to the fire and rescue service, says the FBU.
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “All we hear from government when they attempt justification of butchering the fire and rescue service is that ‘fires are down’ – this is now clearly no longer a claim they can make.
“They wrote off last year’s rise in fires as a ‘blip’ – what will they put it down to this year?
“It isn’t complicated – the fire and rescue service is cut to the bone, and the result is more people dying in fires because crews can no longer respond promptly and in sufficient numbers to tackle fires professionally, quickly and effectively.
“How many more rises in these worrying figures before they join up the dots? How many more people are going to have to die?
“On the day of the publication of these figures, we again call for investment, not more cuts. We can’t make it any plainer.”