Latest fire statistics show annual increase
THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) responded with ‘concern’ that the number of fire incidents attended have increased by three percent in 2017/18.
These latest statistics from the Home Office, running up to March 2018, showed a three percent increase in the number of fires attended as well as a 27% increase in fire related deaths, up from 263 the year before to 334 including the 71 deaths at Grenfell Tower in June 2017. Of all incidents attended by fire and rescue services, fires accounted for 30% and non fire incidents 30%, with the remaining 40% false alarms, ‘which continue to be the largest incident type’, added the NFCC.
In total, 564,827 incidents were attended in 2017/18, a one percent increase compared to the previous year, but a 29% decrease compared to 10 years ago, showing a ‘downward trend’ for the decade but an increase in recent years ‘mainly driven by increases in non-fire incidents attended’. The three percent increase of fires attended saw crews attend 167,150 fires, though this again was a 43% fall from 10 years ago, and the recent increase was driven by a growth in secondary fires.
Fire and rescue services attended 172,052 non fire incidents, a one percent decrease compared to 2016/17, and this decrease was ‘mainly due’ to a fall in emergency medical responding ‘linked to many of the trials stopping in September 2017’. The last 10 years had seen a ‘general decline’ in non fire incidents, but recent years ‘have shown large increases’ due to the medical incidents attended.
Finally, 225,625 false alarms were attended this year, a one percent increase on 2016/17 and a 32% fall compared to 10 years ago, and fire related fatalities – which had been on a ‘general downward trend’ since records became available in 1981/82 – were said to have ‘fluctuated’ since then due to ‘relatively small numbers involved’, with those first figures seeing 755 fire related deaths.
In 2017/18, there were 334 fire related deaths, including the 71 people at Grenfell Tower, compared to 263 in 2016/17, while 3,306 non fatal casualties required hospital treatment, a six percent increase compared with the previous year but a 13% fall compared to five years ago. In response to the figures, NFCC chair Roy Wilsher ‘voiced his concern’ about the incident increase ‘at a time when all fire and rescue services are likely to face further budget cuts’.
In turn, he pointed out that following the Grenfell Tower fire and the Hackitt review of building regulations and fire safety (), ‘there is likely to be more work for fire and rescue services’ that ‘needs to be appropriately funded’. Mr Wilsher commented: ‘It is disappointing to see there has been an increase in the number of fires attended. Fire services are working exceptionally hard on prevention and protection measures, but an increase in incidents will put further pressures on services which are already being stretched.
‘We also need to bear in mind that the number of wholetime firefighters has fallen by 21 per cent since 2010/2011 and it is vital that communities across the country have complete confidence in their emergency services, at a time we are increasingly facing more public scrutiny. While we are seeing some services recruiting, I would like to see the government take the reduction in staff and increase in attendance at incidents into account when considering forthcoming budgets.’