Surge in rescues prompts warning over West Mids Fire Service funding cuts

New research from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has found that the number of people rescued by the West Midland Fire Service has increased by nearly a fifth in one year.

Over a 1,000 people were rescued from incidents between April 2016 and March 2017 representing an 18% increase on the 12 months beforehand.

The research found that a majority of people were rescued at non-fire emergencies such as flooding, hazardous chemical spillages and road traffic collisions. 839 people were rescued at non-fire incidents compared to 168 at fires.

Andrew Scattergood, chair of the FBU in the West Midlands, said the figures demonstrated why a planned 11% cut in central government funding to the West Midlands Fire Service was so dangerous.

“Firefighters are rescuing more people than ever and doing so with severely limited resources. There are 450 fewer frontline firefighters in the West Midlands than in 2010. We cannot guarantee the safety of the public if we take another huge round of cuts. We won’t be able to keep people safe and lives will be lost as a result”, he said.

“I also fear for the safety of our firefighters who put themselves in harm’s way each day. The more cuts there are to firefighter numbers, to fire stations and crew sizes, the more likely it is that a firefighter will be seriously injured on the job.

“West Midlands Fire and Rescue has already been cut to the bone. Any further cuts and we will not be fit for purpose to keep the public safe.”

Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: “The figures showing an 18% increase in the number of people rescued by the West Midlands Fire Service yet again shows that the Government’s cuts to the Service are putting the people of the West Midlands at risk. While demand on our firefighters continues to rise, the West Midlands Fire Service is facing an 11% real terms cut in central funding over the next four years.

“The longer it takes for firefighters to reach a blazing fire, the greater the risk that someone trapped inside will die. Businesses will also burn if firefighters cannot get there on time.

“Our firefighters are heroes, as was dramatically evidenced by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. They put life and limb at risk to save members of the public from danger. Quite simply, fire cuts are putting the public and our firefighters at risk while they really need increased funding to handle the increased demand. The time has come for Government to act.”

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