As the Government today (19 November) announces the longest response times to fires in England in two decades, the FBU claims the ever lengthening time it takes for fire crews to arrive are a direct result of â€˜life-threatening cutsâ€™.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published their Fire Incidents Response Times document today, which collates figures from April 2014 to March 2015, and shows a marked increase in the amount of time it takes for firefighters to get to emergencies. It states that: â€œThe average response times across all location types in 2014-15 increased compared to last year and five years ago, and were the longest response times recorded in the past 20 years.â€
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which represents over 85% of all firefighters in the UK, have said government cuts to fire and rescue services have put the public in danger. Response times donâ€™t only cover fires but terrorist incidents too and there are mounting concerns over slower response times to incidents such as the attack in Paris last week. The situation looks set to get worse when the Chancellor announces the Spending Review next week where further cuts of 30% are expected.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: â€œFinally, the government is admitting what we have known for years, which is that 999 response times are going up, and there is no doubt that lives have been lost as a result. In an emergency every second counts and reckless government cuts show they have scant regard for public safety. Since this government came to power the fire and rescue service has been decimated. Weâ€™ve seen 7,000 frontline firefighter jobs lost, 40 stations closed and scores of fire engines and equipment axed.
â€œThe governmentâ€™s own figures show how they are putting budgets before public safety.Â George Osborne needs to take account of these figures ahead of next weekâ€™s Spending Review where we are likely to see more massive budget cuts. If they are implemented, we will see response times grow longer still and more people die as a result.â€
â€œThe DCLG excluded tens of thousands of incidents when calculating their figures as they donâ€™t include fires where there has been heat or smoke damage only, so the true figure on lengthening response times is almost certainly far higher than they are admitting.â€
Please see below an excerpt of the DCLG report:
â€œThe average response time in England during 2014-15 to:
The average response times across all location types in 2014-15 increased compared to last year and five years ago, and were the longest response times recorded in the past 20 years.
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