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Latest stats show drop in fire deaths

20 May 2020

THE LATEST figures released by the Home Office show that the number of fire-related fatalities in England have reduced by 10%.

The figures – which cover the year ending 2019 – include statistics on all incidents, fire-related fatalities and casualties from fire. The number of incidents attended by Fire and Rescue Services in England have fallen by 4% and the number of fires attended has fallen by 12%. 

Roy Wilsher, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), has welcomed the findings, but warns that now is not the time for complacency, especially so during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Wilsher stated: “While I am pleased to see the reduction in the number of incidents attended, it is absolutely vital that we do not become complacent. Fire and Rescue Services are working in unprecedented times. At this stage, we do not know how COVID-19 will continue to impact our communities and the future numbers or types of incidents.”

He continued: “It is clear, however, that the excellent prevention and protection work undertaken by Fire and Rescue Services has contributed to these reductions, which must be recognised and praised. Unfortunately, we have had to draw back from a number of these activities to adhere to social distancing and other safeguards. We will not know the true impact for some time.”

Referencing the pandemic once again, Wilsher commented: “While we are planning and modelling for a return to a ‘new normal’, COVID-19 has shown it is essential that we plan for risk, not just demand. We must be ready for infrequent high impact events, as well as the day-to-day activity. Maintaining this resilience can only support the entirety of the UK in future years.”

Further, he observed: “The stark reality is we need to ensure services can maintain a resilient response while planning for this new normality in unprecedented times. There are a number of unknown factors which we need to be able to respond to and understand. We also need to consider the role of Fire and Rescue Services in future, not to mention incident command and responding to emergencies which is in our DNA. I am sure there is much more to support UK resilience.”

Key findings

In terms of the other key findings in the Home Office statistics, there has been a 4% decrease in incidents attended. The total number of deliberate fires has decreased by 9%. Fires have accounted for 28% of all incidents attended by the Fire and Rescue Service, fire false alarms 41% and non-fire incidents 30%. There has also been a 5% reduction in fatalities associated with dwelling fires.

The NFCC adds that some of the figures should be viewed against the hot, dry conditions witnessed in 2018, when there was a large spike in outdoor fires.

Of course, in recent times (and as reported by Fire Safety Matters), Fire and Rescue Services across the UK have taken on a number of nationally agreed additional activities, duly highlighting that they are ready, willing and able to support the response to COVID-19.

Additional Fire and Rescue Services activities have included transporting patients to and from NHS Nightingale Hospitals, face shield assembly and packing, assisting with antigen testing, ambulance transport, driver training and instruction, assisting with face fit and delivery of PPE and medicines, the movement of bodies, driving ambulances and assisting vulnerable people.

Fire and Rescue Services across England will receive their share of an additional £1.6 billion worth of Government funding – ie somewhere in the region of £48 million – to support the ongoing response to COVID-19.

*The full statistics can be found on the Home Office website