Firefighter looking left

Essex firefighters welcome chief’s new ‘open and transparent’ approach

Essex firefighters have today welcomed Essex County Fire and Rescue’s (ECFRS) public commitment to an open and transparent examination of statistics compiled by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) on the numbers of fire deaths, home fires and casualties in Essex that buck the national downward trend.

As a first step, the FBU were allowed to present their concerns and statistics to a small group of fire authority councillors and senior managers at Fire HQ. The presentation was well-received and the FBU plan to make the same presentation to the full fire authority meeting on 7th October 2015.

Keith Handscomb, FBU executive council member for East Anglia, said: “We face huge cuts in central government funding and it’s vital the fire authority and the public know the whole truth, warts and all, before making critical decisions about dangerous cuts to our frontline emergency services.”

Serious concerns have been raised about the scant and highly selective statistics used by ECFRS in their recent public consultation. In response to media enquires ECFRS recently released a sub category of statistics relating only to “accidental” dwelling fires and “accidental” fire deaths in Essex.

Keith Handscomb explained: “That was a blatant attempt to spin the facts to try to justify cuts. The truth is all fires, whether started accidentally or otherwise, can and do kill and injure people. Everyone knows that ‘deliberate’ fires present the same risks to the public and cause costly property damage in exactly the same way as ‘accidental’ fires do.”

“It’s true to say that the last year was exceptional in terms of fire deaths in Essex – however, the consistent trend over the last decade has been that for every five ‘accidental’ fire deaths there has been on average another three deaths as a consequence of other fires in Essex. These were all real fires and real people sadly lost real loved ones in those fires. Official government figures show Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is failing to reduce the number of fire deaths, home fires and casualties overall, in stark contrast to the national downward trend.”

“The full facts speak for themselves and we look forward to the fire authority and the public being given the open and transparent opportunity to look at the those figures and those ECFRS has produced, and draw their own conclusions.”

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