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FIREFIGHTERS are responding to a soaring number of incidents in England despite their numbers being slashed by a fifth, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned today.
Fire incidents rose by 3 per cent to just under 170,000 in the last year, the highest number for four years, according to the FBU.
Since 2010-11, more than 9,000 fire and rescue service jobs in England have been lost – 20 per cent – the number of full-time firefighters has fallen by just under 6,500 and the number of fire control room staff has reduced by 433, the FBU says.
General secretary Matt Wrack said: “It is true that firefighting is no longer about just fighting fires, it is about much more.
“These figures reveal the immense value of the work of firefighters, and also the scale of the challenge they face with increased cuts to their numbers.
“The government is choosing to ignore its own figures, preferring instead to bury their heads in the sand.
“The need for firefighters in all their roles is increasing, and yet year on year we are seeing appalling cuts to the service.
“Fire and rescue services in England are expected to do more with less, putting public safety at risk.
“Firefighters have been ensuring the service delivers, but it is at breaking point.”
The government maintains there are fewer fires, saying the underlying demand for the fire service has fallen.
But the FBU questioned the government’s position, saying its research showed an increase in incidents, a statistic including fires.
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