Data from the Home Office has indicated that the number of people dying in fires in England has gone up 15 percent in just one year. This is the biggest increase in two decades. According to sources, fire services in Cumbria and Cambridgeshire areas had the highest rates of fatalities.
Trends in Fire Deaths
Fire Service Minister Brandon Lewis pointed out that there had been a long downward trend in deaths. However figures from 2015 showed that, across England, 16 fire services took on over 160,000 thousand fires which were over 7000 more than the year before. In these incidents, there were just over 300 fire fatalities. This is 39 more deaths than that same prior year.
In the past three decades, the number of fatalities from fires had been steadily declining in England. The number of fire-related deaths went down to 22 percent lower than 2006, but the rise is attributed to an increase in accidental fires. These are related to aircraft disasters like the Shoreham Air Show where, in 2015, 11 people succumbed to their injuries following a plane crash.
Another finding pointed out that there were geographical variations in primary home fires. Primary home fires are classified as the most serious type of fire in domestic situations. Fire services in Cumbria and Cambridgeshire had the highest rate of fatalities in these types of fires, as well. The numbers add up to 25 deaths for every 1000 primary house fires. The average in all of England was seven per 1000 house fires. It is not shocking to hear the Secretary of Cambridge’s Fire Brigade stating that these figures are nothing short of heartbreaking.
According to the Secretary, there is now a postcode lottery for fires. Cambridgeshire has had the biggest percentage of cuts to its budget the country has experienced. They have lost firefighters and now, with the budget cuts, people’s lives are being lost as well.
A spokesperson in Cambridgeshire said, on behalf of the Fire and Rescue service, that it has not made any cuts to the front-line services. Therefore, no correlation between budget cuts and deaths should be presumed. Furthermore, the number of fire-related deaths tends to fluctuate every year. It usually always does so in single figures.
Cambridgeshire has the fifth lowest number of house fires in England. The spokesperson went on to say that this is a good, positive reflection on its fire and rescue services.
In 2015, data put together by the Department for Communities and Local Government showed that firefighter numbers had gone down 14.7 percent over a 10-year period. At the same time, fire response times from services went up in a six-year period. The Home Office stoutly refutes the theory that fire-related deaths being on the rise have anything to do with funding cuts.
The Minister for Policing and Fire Service, Brandon Lewis, rightly states that any death from a fire is a tragedy. However, the overall trend in fires and fire-related deaths, he notes in agreement with the Home Office, has been at historically low levels for decades.
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