FIREFIGHTERS rescued more people last year than ever before, according to research published yesterday.
Figures obtained by the Fire Brigades Union show that more than 41,000 people were rescued by firefighters between April 2015 and March 2016, a 16 per cent increase on the previous year.
The findings are particularly significant given that government cuts to fire brigades have been justified on the basis that the number of fires has declined year on year.
In fact fires add up to less than 10 per cent of the total rescue figures, with floods, hazardous chemical spillages, crashes and lift rescues contributing to the rest.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack (pictured) said: “These new findings reflect the ever-widening range of activities that modern-day firefighters now undertake. This significant increase shows that the work of firefighters is more diverse now than ever. We are very proud that our members are rescuing record numbers of people.
“Yet the government wants to cut the service further, on top of almost 10,000 firefighter job losses since 2010 and more than 40 station closures.”
The union also argues that the reduction in fires is down to better regulations and improved community safety, which would not have been achieved without the efforts of firefighters. “Firefighters have helped to reduce the incidence of fires in part through all the educational and community work they do and, as these figures show, fires are now a relatively small part of the bigger rescue picture,” Mr Wrack said.
“The ‘fires are down’ mantra can no longer be used to claim that fire and rescue cuts are justified.”