Fire reports plummet amid service cuts

Assistant Chief Fire Officer David Russel
Assistant Chief Fire Officer David Russel
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Fire chiefs today hailed the success of prevention and anti-arson measures after new figures revealed the number of incidents across the Fylde coast has plummeted in the past decade.

Fire crews across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre were called to 1,051 incidents last year, a 48 per cent drop on 10 years ago.

The Grand Hotel holiday flats were the centre of a major blaze in South Shore. The building almost disappears in clouds of smoke and sparks.

The Grand Hotel holiday flats were the centre of a major blaze in South Shore. The building almost disappears in clouds of smoke and sparks.

The fire service says the dramatic reduction in incidents was down to fire prevention and anti-arson measures.

And they said the figures have been achieved despite millions of pounds of cuts imposed on the service, with more set to come.

Of the call-outs last year, 12 resulted in death of serious injury. Nine were in Blackpool, one was in Fylde and two were in Wyre.

By comparison, the figures reveal in 2004 to 2005, there were 2,158 fires, with 97 resulting in serious injury or death.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer David Russel said there were nearly a third fewer accidental fires in people’s homes and 60 per cent fewer arson incident than five years ago.

The figures come at a time that the Government is seeking to make £10m of savings from its £60m fire budget by April 2016.

Mr Russel said: “(These figures were) achieved during a period when we delivered £13m of efficiency savings, but having driven down fire and fire casualty statistics to such levels, further reductions are more difficult to secure, demanding more resources than we have or could ever expect to have.

“With funding reductions imposed on us making, it is inevitable that there will be an impact on the numbers of fire engines, firefighters or working patterns, but protecting the public remains our priority and our Emergency Cover Review is underway to establish how that might best be achieved.” There are currently 204 firefighters serving Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre.

A Government-commissioned review reported last month that the country’s fire service needed transforming to be more efficient and effective. Former chief fire and rescue advisor Sir Ken Knight’s report showed fire incidents were down 40 per cent over the past decade, though firefighter numbers have stayed about the same. The national figures are reflected across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre.

Sir Ken has advised the Government to create a single fire service for England rather than the existing model of 46 separate authorities.