Dangerous Tory Cuts to Our Fire & Rescue Service Need to End

WriteYou is Britain's non-partisan social newspaper. You can follow our General Election Coverage here. If you enjoy our coverage please do consider becoming a member for £5 a month and supporting our mission for a non-partisan comment platform here. Get involved in the discussion by commenting on this article or WriteYou discussion by clicking here 

As well as holding back investment, living standards and growth, it’s important to also point out that the Tories’ ideologically driven austerity also makes us all less safe.

One example of this is the cuts to our fire and rescue service.

While our firefighters do an amazing job, we have seen the axing of 10,000 jobs, record numbers of fire stations closed and cuts to equipment, meaning people are left running the service on a shoestring.

Such cuts are bound to have an impact on the ability of firefighters to do their jobs, which is consistently being undermined by cuts.

Indeed, Government cuts are directly to blame for a rise in fire-related deaths in England last year, according to the Fire Brigades Union that represents firefighters.

Recently released official figures show that 303 people died in fires during 2015/16, up 15% on the previous year.

Response times to all types of serious fires also rose, in some cases by as much as one minute and eight seconds.

Here in London, Anthony Mayer’s review into the London Fire Brigade concluded that it should not have its budget cut any further, making it clear that it could not cope with any further cuts after eight years of cuts under Boris Johnson.

The review pointed out that emergency response times have increased in areas where fire stations were closed in 2014, one of which was Kingsland fire station near my home in Hackney.

Another report published by the Home Office in January confirmed that the number of people who have died as a result of fires in the home has increased.

This tallies with BBC research released in December that showed fire crews taking longer to arrive at house fires.

In this Radio 5 Live investigation, the BBC highlighted the case of pensioner Bernard Lewis, who tragically died from smoke inhalation days after a house fire in Merseyside when the second fire engine didn’t arrive on time.

Sixty per cent of the fire and rescue services that responded to the BBC’s freedom of information request said that second fire engines were slower to respond to house fires in 2016 compared to 2010.

Additionally, 55 per cent of fire crews said that the first engines were arriving slower to house fires, with some arriving five minutes later.

This matters — evidence shows that the longer it takes firefighters to get to incidents, the more likely it is that people will be injured or killed.

This is what happens when you prioritise cuts ahead of public safety — cuts have real, human consequences.

Fire prevention exercises such as home safety checks have been reduced by a quarter over five years. Fire and rescue services are also spending 13 per cent less time on public safety campaigns and initiatives.

As well as opposing these cuts, Labour also backs the FBU’s campaign for greater professional standards in the fire and rescue service to better protect firefighters, which was highlighted in a lobby of Parliament last year, after the union published a report about firefighter Stephen Hunt who was killed in 2013 while responding to fire at a hair products store. His death was since found to have been completely avoidable.

We need to make clear the real impact of fire and rescue service cuts on both firefighter’s safety and the safety of the public as a whole.

More broadly, we need to get the message across that cuts do have consequences — not least for public safety — and that in June for the future of our public services we need to elect a Labour government, committed to investing in our future and public services, for the benefit of the economy and society as a whole.

In contrast, if the Tories are re-elected, all we will see is the continuation of job losses, equipment losses, station closures and slower response times in our fire and rescue service.

Argue the issues with like minded people by leaving a comment below or joining the discussion here


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.