Alarming new figures reveal that 10,000 firefighter jobs have been lost in the past six years, plunging the fire and rescue service into its worst state of crisis in decades.
In a parliamentary briefing released to all MPs, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warns that another round of central government funding cuts will take an already struggling fire service to breaking point.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Thanks to the government, there are now ten thousand fewer firefighters across the UK to save people’s lives at fires, floods, car crashes, building collapses, lift rescues, road traffic accidents and industrial disasters. The public deserve a first rate emergency service, not one that has been unrelentingly slashed to the bone.
“Politicians seem to justify the unprecedented cuts by repeating the line that there are fewer fires nowadays. This masks the real work the fire and rescue service undertake – 90% of the rescues they undertake are at non-fire emergencies. The modern day fire and rescue service is an all hazard emergency service – one that needs to be funded properly.”
According to FBU statistics 9,668 firefighter jobs have been axed across the UK since 2010 as central government funding to the service has been cut by 30%.* An FBU analysis earlier this year found that central government funding is likely to be cut by a further 20% by the end of the current parliament.
The government’s own figures, released by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in December last year, have revealed that response times to fires are now at their slowest for 20 years.
*There were 9668 firefighter job losses during the period March 2010 to March 2016. Based on the rise of this number in recent years and how many jobs go every year, it is now almost 100% certain that the total figure to date will be above 10,000.