Report claims funding cuts to fire services has resulted in restrictions on service quality

A new report has revealed financial cuts to Fire and Rescue Services since 2010 has forced major cuts to resources resulting in the loss of thousands of firefighters, a reduction in the number of fire engines and an increase in emergency response times.

Other reductions have included fire control operators and vital support staff, and the closure of dozens of fire stations.

Data shows that the total staffing levels in metropolitan areas, such as the West Midlands, have fallen at a much higher rate than elsewhere in England. Reductions have been as high as 23% versus just 16% in the other fire and rescue services. 

The 'Fair and Intelligent Funding for the Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Authorities' report' also warns that further cuts, and a changing landscape, will pose a higher risk of fire, and threat to life, in Metropolitan boroughs. 

Metropolitan Fire and Rescue services serve a combined population of more than 20 million people across the UK. As well as dealing with local emergencies, they are also part of regional and national resilience, supporting colleagues up and down the country. They provide the Government with the immediate resources required to respond to major incidents. In a plea to the Government, AMFRA Chair Councillor John Edwards, said:

“These cuts to fire and rescue services must stop. The Government must now measure the impact of austerity on our essential services, draw back from cuts that could cost more lives and reinvest in our life-saving services. 

“This AMFRA document should be the starting point for an impact assessment and a change in policy. Metropolitan fire and rescue services are at a tipping point. They are just coping and further degradation will lead to a further growth in the risk that already exists for communities and businesses.” 



Fire prevention campaigns and initiatives have also seen a 56% reduction in activity and home fire safety checks have fallen by 23% in Metropolitan areas. In a statement, the Shadow Fire Minister Chris Williamson said: 

“Our fire and rescue services must be sufficiently funded and resourced to deliver the life-saving services they provide. The Government needs to take stock of the impact of the long running austerity measures on our emergency services. It cannot continue cutting funds for our fire and rescue services, especially at a time when the forecasting contained within this document by the Association of Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Authorities highlights that changing socio-economic factors prove that the risk of fire is on the rise. 

"Fire and rescue authorities have responded remarkably to Government cuts to date but their message today cannot fall on deaf ears: more cuts could have disastrous consequences for our communities. To ignore this document would be to ignore the evidence that show further cuts will compromise public safety.

"The tragedy of the Grenfell fire has been a wake-up call for us all. It is time to listen to the experts in this field and to dismiss this document would be a grave error.” 

The Government will publish its next budget on 22 November, with fire and rescue services receiving final information about their grant funding in mid-December.


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