Northamptonshire firefighters faced fewer serious fires last year
Firefighters in Northamptonshire faced fewer serious fires last year, the latest official figures show.
It follows the trend across England, where the number of fires dropped slightly after increasing each of the previous two years.
In 2017-18, the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 1,102 primary fires – those which cause damage, and may involve casualties or require people to be rescued – 44 fewer than during the previous year.
It represents a 17% drop from the 1,325 recorded in 2010-11, when the data was first published.
However, there were fewer primary fires in 2013-14, when 1,057 were recorded.
May-17 saw the most fires in the last financial year, with the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service attending 114 during the month.
There were four fatalities in fires in 2017-18, and 60 casualties.
Nationally, there were more than 74,000 primary fires in 2017-18, a 1% drop on the previous year, and 20% fewer than in 2010-11.
In total, firefighters attended 333,000 incidents, including 166,000 non-fire incidents, the figures show. They also received 233,000 false alarms.
The Fire Brigades Union has disputed the figures, saying that its own research shows fire staff are attending more incidents – but that the number of firefighters has been cut by a fifth.
It said fire incidents rose by 3% to just under 170,000 in the last year, the highest number for four years.
The union added that, since 2010-11, more than 9,000 fire and rescue service jobs in England have been lost, representing a 20% cut.
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.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government recognises the vital role firefighters continue to play in protecting communities.
“Over the past 10 years the total number of fire incidents in England has nearly halved - down 46% - and work to prevent fires from starting in the first place has seen real success.
“We are confident that fire and rescue services have the resources they need to do their important work. Single purpose fire and rescue authorities will see an increase in core spending power of 2.3% in cash terms in 2019-20.”