Union chief warns cuts to fire service put public at risk

THERE was a 16 per cent increase in the number of people killed or injured in fires in Staffordshire over a 12-month period.

According to the latest Home Office figures released, seven people died and 189 were injured in fires in the county in 2017-18.

Forty-one of those injured required hospital treatment.

During the same period for 2016/17, five people were killed and 164 injured.

The number of fires in Staffordshire also rose last year, from 3,198 in 2016/17 to 3,318 in 2017-18.

The number of firefighters in the county has fallen by more than 100 in seven years.

In 2010 Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service employed 845 full-time firefighters, but the number fell to 753 in 2016 and to 707 in 2017.

Fire Brigades’ Union National Officer Dave Green has warned Government cuts to the fire service nationally are putting the public at risk.

He said: “For years, politicians have slashed our service and excused their actions because long-term improvements were being made. Now their figures show the public is at greater risk.

“The Grenfell Tower fire should have been a wake-up call [more than 70 people died].

“Firefighters have lost complete confidence in this Tory government. They are putting the public at risk while wrecking a well-respected, professional service,” he added.

Tim Hyde, director of response at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The figures show we still have much work to do to help people stay safe in their homes and we remain committed to our prevention work to make Staffordshire the safest place to be.”