The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) stated that it was ‘very disappointed’ in the 2% increase in incidents over the last 12 months.
These statistics cover the 12 months up to December 2018, with the Home Office figures showing a 2% increase in the total number of incidents attended by English fire and rescue services (FRSs). FRSs attended 576,586 incidents in the period compared to 565,777 in the previous year, while 177,844 of the incidents were fires – a 5% increase on the previous year’s 170,00.
Of all incidents attended by FRSs, fires accounted for 31%, false alarms 40% and non fire incidents 29%, with this ‘partly attributed’ to an 11% increase in secondary fires ‘linked to the hot, dry summer’ in 2018. Excluding medical incidents, FRSs attended 144,836 non fire incidents, an 8% increase compared to the previous year’s 134,419.
The five largest non fire incidents included: road traffic collisions (up 4% from 29,744 to 30,872); entry/exit (up 7% from 23,391 to 24,876); medical incidents (down 39% due to removing FRSs from medical response trials in September 2017, from 37,317 to 22,784); flooding (up 29% from 12,674 to 16,333); and assisting other agencies (up 14% from 12,728 to 14,521).
Deaths from fires fell by 23% to 261 from 338 in the previous year, with these having ‘been on a downward trends since the 1980s’ but having ‘plateaued in recent years’, and last year’s figures having reflected the 71 deaths at Grenfell Tower. There were 6,902 non fatal casualties, a 4% decline compared to 7,199 the year before, with 3,129 of these requiring hospital treatment – again, a 4% decrease compared with 3,259 in the previous year.
Roy Wilsher, chair of the NFCC, commented: ‘I am very disappointed to see both an increase in the number of incidents attended and the five per cent increase in fires. While a number of the fires attended last year can be attributed to the hot weather last summer, it is important to recognise we have already seen in the region of 100 wildfires this year alone, and this is likely to continue to grow.
‘Wildfires both last year and this year have taken up huge amounts of resources and it is essential that the government recognise the need to resource to risk, as well as demand. Fire and rescue services must be resourced to meet the risk in their locality sufficiently; otherwise the good work of previous years will slowly be undone.
‘The increase in incidents demonstrates the challenges services’ currently face. Fire-related fatalities are still not falling as we would like to see and as stated in the Home Office data trend continues to plateau. All this shows we are facing new and changing risks.’