Fire Deaths Rise in the UK as England Prompts the ‘Postcode Lottery’ Claims
Data published by the UK Home Office has shown that approximately 303 people have died in fire-related deaths in the years 2015-2016 within England. When compared to data from previous years, it is seen that this is a 15% increase in the past 12 months and is the largest percentage increase in the last 20 years.
Cambridgeshire and Cumbria have reported the highest fatality rates regarding fire-related deaths. Statistics indicate that the first services in England attended approximately 162,000 fires in the 2015-2016 year. This statistic is an increase of approximately 7,000 incidents from the previous year with a recorded 303 fire-related fatalities.
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Peak in fire deaths after decades of a downward pattern
The number of individuals dying in fire-related deaths across England has been following a downward pattern over the past 30 years with fatalities reported as being 22% lower in 2005 than 2015. Unfortunately, there has been a peak in the number of fire-related deaths and this may be due to the increase of accidental deaths taking place in residential properties as well as an increase in the number of fires involving aircraft. For example, the Shoreham air show disaster in 2015 resulted in 11 fire-related fatalities.
Highest fatality rate in Cambridgeshire and Cumbria
In addition to these accidental fire-related fatalities, it was identified that the most serious kind of fatality for any primary home fire included wide geographical variations in the fatality rate. In previous years, last year to be exact, the fire and rescue services in the Cambridgeshire and Cumbria area reported the highest fatality rates with approximately 25 deaths occurring in every 1,000 primary home fires. The overall statistic for England marked an average of seven fire-related deaths per 1,000 primary domestic fires.
Cuts in government funding to blame?
According to Cameron Matthews, the secretary of the Cambridge Fire Brigade’s Union, the above statistics are “heartbreaking” and the chances being almost a postcode lottery. Matthews stated that Cambridgeshire has some of the highest percentage cuts in the UK and many firefighters have experienced fatalities making it clear that the government’s cuts are resulting in lives being lost.
A representative speaking for the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service stated that the service had not made any cuts to the front-line service and no financial effect was impacting the frontline service at the moment. This taken into account, no correlation can be made between financial cuts and loss of fire fighter’s lives. The number of deaths was noted to fluctuate on an annual basis, but they continue to remain in the low single figures with Cambridgeshire presenting with the fifth lowest number of home fires in England. The spokesperson believed this to be a positive report.
According to data compiled by the Department for the Communities and Local Government in 2015, it was seen that the number of firefighters active in England had fallen by approximately 14.7% in the past ten years. however, the fire services response time had risen in the past six years. When questioned about this statistic, the UK Home Office refuted the claim that a rise in fire-related fatalities can be associated with a cut in government funding.