South Yorkshire: Fire union tells South Yorkshire managers not to risk cutting firefighter numbers as home fire death target not being hit

The Fire Brigades Union has warned South Yorkshire managers not to risk cutting the number of firefighters after it was revealed that a key fire death reduction target was not being met. South Yorkshire is one of only 5 fire authorities not to have met the target.

The national target is for fire authorities to have accidental fire deaths in the home of no more than 1.25 the national average. Greater Manchester, Durham, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire all failed to hit that target.

Although fire deaths have fallen overall, those five fire authorities have failed to keep pace with the reducing national average. Fire authority managers have plans to cut the number of frontline firefighters in South Yorkshire, while publicly presenting the plans as only being about shift changes.

Ian Watkins FBU Regional Chair said: “ South Yorkshire fire crews have been working hard to reduce fire deaths and the numbers have been falling. But at this stage we’re not keeping up with most of the other fire authorities.

“Fire deaths are being cut by a combination of emergency response rescues, better fire detection and prevention work. These new figures show this is not the time to launch a round of cuts to the number of frontline firefighters, which is at the heart of what is being proposed.

“It’s not just about cutting the number of firefighters able to respond to fires. The cuts will also harm our ability to respond to all other emergencies including extreme weather events.

“We are not making these points lightly. Councillors must take a close look at what is being proposed and question whether frontline cuts can be justified, because we don’t think they can.”

Parliamentary answer below.

Dismore - Fire Services Mon, 26 January 2009 | House of Commons - Written Answer


Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which fire and rescue authorities did not meet the public service agreement sub-target of having an annual fatality rate from accidental fires in the home of no more than 1.25 times the national average in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

Mr. Khan: Because of inherent fluctuations in the number of fatalities in individual Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) areas, the definition of this sub-target takes the average data across a five year period, and this runs from April 2005 to March 2010.

The comparable statistics that can be calculated now are for the five year period 2002-03 to 2006-07, and are shown in the table. However this should only be used for guidance purposes and not as a means of judging FRA performance or ability to meet PSA 3 targets.

Fire authorities exceeding 1.25 times the national average rate of accidental dwelling fires


Average fatality rate (per 100,000 population) based on 2002-03 to 2006-07 data

England average


Rate 1.25* the National Average






Greater Manchester


West Yorkshire




South Yorkshire (1)


(1) The figure for South Yorkshire is higher than 1.25* the national average when taken to three decimal places.

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