NFCC calls for ‘properly resourced’ fire and rescue services
THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) cited the latest national fire statistics to call on the government to ‘ensure services are properly resourced’.
Home Office statistics have shown that the number of fires attended by fire and rescue services (FRSs) in the period from April 2018 to March 2019 have increased by 9%, while the number of incidents have increased by 2%, leading the NFCC to call for FRSs to be ‘properly resourced’ by the government ‘especially in areas such as prevention and protection’, so as to ‘see these figures reduce in the future’.
The NFCC commented that that the increase is ‘largely due’ to a 19% growth in secondary fires, with many of these being linked to the ‘unprecedented hot weather’ in 2018, and the last year seeing the highest number of secondary fires since 2011. In turn, primary fires fell by 1% in that same timeframe, while overall fires accounted for 32% of incidents; false alarms for 40% of incidents; and non fire incidents for 28%.
In further detail, the 9% increase in fires was from 167,330 to 182,825, a 7% increase over five years ago, but a 27% decrease from 10 years ago. Additionally, the 2% increase in incidents was from 566,433 to 576,040, a 9% increase on five years ago but still 20% lower than 10 years ago. However, on this note the NFCC points out that this finding ‘identifies a worrying trend that the number of incidents has increased’.
Further data showed that dwelling fires decreased by 4%, with 26% in purpose built flats, and 17% in purpose built low rise flats or maisonettes of one to three storeys. Another 6% were in purpose built medium rise flats of four to nine storeys, while 3% were in purpose built high rises of 10 storeys or more in height, with all the purpose built flat data presenting an increase of 3% of fires compared to the previous year.
Roy Wilsher, NFCC chair, stated: ‘It is very concerning to see the increase in incidents attended and particularly worrying to see the number of fires attended have increased. Demand on the UK fire and rescue service must be taken into account. In recent days we have seen more than 20 fire services support the major incident in Derbyshire via NFCC’s National Resilience arrangements and local mutual aid agreements, once again demonstrating the need for Fire Services to be resourced for risk as well as demand.
‘This echoes the national response to wildfires we saw at Easter and the recent flooding in Lincolnshire. Recent independent inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate raised concerns about whether fire and rescue services have enough resource and highlighted areas such as protection work, which has reduced drastically in recent years, mainly due to austerity.
‘These areas, when coupled with a reduction of wholetime firefighters by 23 per cent since 2010, need addressing. Any forthcoming Spending Review must review and take these areas into account. We will also see more pressures following any changes which may be introduced following the review into building regulations.
‘I look forward to working with the new Fire Minister Kit Malthouse who has been involved in the review and will be aware of these additional pressures on our already stretched resources.’