New research from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has found that firefighters rescued more members of the public than ever before during the period April 2016 to March 2017.
A record 43,000 people were rescued throughout the UK for the period, a 6% increase on the previous year. England saw 36,000 rescues, with 2,000 in Wales, 1,500 in Northern Ireland, and 3,500 in Scotland.
There were substantial increases in the number of rescues carried out by firefighters in Durham, Staffordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex and Norfolk.
The research found that the increase is largely due to an increase in non-fire rescues, such as flooding, hazardous chemical spillages and road traffic collisions – there were around ten times more rescues at non-fire incidents than fires. Over 39,000 rescues were carried out from non-fire incidents for the period to March 2017.
It is however recognised that firefighters continue to make a significant intervention in fires, with almost 4,000 people rescued from fires last year.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “These record rescue figures show the immense value of the work of firefighters, who perform a critical public service, and who now turn out for an increasingly varied range of rescues. The public recognise the value of this work. Our members are much appreciated by the communities they serve, where they tackle a range of hazards, protecting lives, homes and businesses.
“We have been collecting these important rescue figures and publishing them annually for more than ten years - the Westminster government stopped publishing fire rescue statistics at the turn of the century. The FBU wants government bodies to publish official, comprehensive statistics on all rescues, showing the value of firefighters to their communities.”