Dorset & Wiltshire firefighters under pressure

Dorset & Wiltshire firefighters under pressure

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:39am 13th August 2019.

Figures have revealed Dorset and Wiltshire firefighters attended hundreds more fires last year.

The Fire Brigades Union has warned that services are under pressure, and voiced concern that "massive cuts" have led to a significant increase in fires across England.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service was called out to 3,825 fires in 2018-19, Home Office figures show.

That's an increase of 15% compared to the previous 12 months, when 3,334 were reported.

The overall number of callouts in Dorset and Wiltshire also increased, with firefighters responding to more false alarms and non-fire incidents, such as road traffic accidents.

Arne Fire 2

Across England, fire and rescue services attended almost 183,000 fires in 2018-19, a rise of 9% on the previous year.

The FBU accused the Government of being "utterly complacent about fire safety for years", and said firefighters were responding to more incidents with fewer resources.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

"Shamefully, firefighters are being thanked for their efforts this year with yet another real-terms pay cut.

"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 last decade, but the Government has failed to listen.

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

Photo of Dorset And Wiltshire Fire Truck

The FBU said that funding for English fire and rescue services will fall by £155 million in 2019-20, representing a real-terms cut of 15% since 2016-17.

The union said firefighter numbers have fallen by a fifth over the last decade, and the number of specialist safety officers has been cut by a quarter.

Kate Lee, shadow minister for fire services, said the latest figures show the Government's policy is "based on a complete falsehood".

She said:

"Previously, they have attempted to justify cuts to the numbers of firefighters and fire stations on the grounds that callouts and fires were declining, but numbers have been rising for years.

"Yet the Tories have continued to cut the fire service, and seem to have learned nothing from the Grenfell tragedy.

"You can't have safety and security on the cheap."

Weymouth Fire on Holly Road (Dorchest Fire Station)

In Dorset and Wiltshire, there were six fire-related fatalities and 79 non-fatal casualties last year.

Across England, 253 people were killed in fires in 2018-19, compared with 339 the previous year – which included 70 deaths due to the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Home Office attributed the increase in fires to the hot summer in 2018.

A spokesperson said:

"We are grateful for the continued tireless efforts of firefighters across the country."