Following the publication of the Home Office fire statistics for England covering 2017/18 (up until March 2018), the Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council has voiced his concern about the increase in incidents, at a time when all fire and rescue services are likely to face further budget cuts.
The latest release shows a three per cent increase in the number of fires attended and a 27 per cent increase in fire-related fatalities in 2017/18 – an increase from 263 to 334 (although this does include 71 deaths at Grenfell Tower in June 2017), while there has been a one per cent increase in the number of incidents attended by fire and rescue services.
Roy Wilsher, Chair of the NFCC, said: “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 an increase in attendance at incidents into account when considering forthcoming budgets.”
Mr Wilsher also pointed that following the Grenfell Tower fire and the independent Hackitt Review into Building Regulations and Fire Safety there is likely to be more work for fire and rescue services, to carry out which needs to be appropriately funded.
Of all incidents attended by FRSs in 2017/18, fires accounted for 30 per cent and non-fire incidents 30 per cent. The remaining 40 per cent were fire false alarms, which continued to be the largest incident type.
This is the fourth set of statistics published by the Home Office that cover the Grenfell Tower fire. The full set of statistics can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fire-and-rescue-incident-statistics-england-year-ending-march-2018
FRSs attended 564,827 incidents in 2017/18. This was a one per cent increase compared with the previous year (560,453) but a 29 per cent decrease compared with ten years ago (791,746 in 2007/08). The total number of incidents was on a downward trend for around a decade, though they have increased in recent years mainly driven by increases in non-fire incidents attended.
FRSs attended 167,150 fires in 2017/18. This was a three per cent increase compared with the previous year (161,997) but a 43 per cent decrease compared with ten years ago (293,920 in 2007/08). The increase in fires is driven by an increase in secondary fires with primary fires showing a small decrease.
FRSs attended 172,052 non-fire incidents in 2017/18. This was a one per cent decrease compared with the previous year (174,560). The recent decrease in non-fire incidents is mainly due to a decline in emergency medical responding linked to many of the trials stopping in September 2017. For around a decade, there had been a general decline in the number of non-fire incidents. However, recent years have shown large increases, largely due to a rise in medical incidents attended.
FRSs attended 225,625 fire false alarms in 2017/18. This was a one per cent increase compared with the previous year (223,896) but a 32 per cent decrease compared with ten years ago (331,478 in 2007/08).
Fatalities and casualties
The number of fire-related fatalities had been on a general downward trend since comparable figures first became available in 1981/82, when there were 755 fire-related fatalities, though the numbers have fluctuated due to the relatively small numbers involved. In 2017/18, however, there were 334 fire-related fatalities (including 71 from the Grenfell Tower fire) compared with 263 in the previous year (an increase of 27%).
There were 3,306 non-fatal casualties requiring hospital treatment1 in 2017/18 (including 77 from the Grenfell Tower fire). This was a six per cent increase compared with the previous year (3,128) but a 13 per cent decrease compared with five years ago (3,811 in 2012/13).