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Fire claims more lives in Surrey despite decrease in number of incidents

4 minute read
Fire claims more lives in Surrey despite decrease in number of incidents

Published by Grace Mcgachy at 6:00am 24th February 2020. (Updated at 7:27am 24th February 2020)

More lives were lost to fires in Surrey last year despite a drop in the number of incidents attended by firefighters, according to new statistics.

The local situation mirrors that across England, with the chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council saying he is “very concerned” by the national situation and that fire services face “huge challenges”.

The Home Office figures show there were ten fire-related fatalities in Surrey in the 12 months to September last year – nine of them taking place in in homes.

This was an increase of nine on the year before and the most since 2010.

It comes despite a small decrease in the number of fires, with 2,578 recorded over the year.

The most number of fires crews from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service had to attend to were small outdoor blazes that did not involve people or property.

These secondary fires were responsible for 45% of their fire-related callouts, which was an increase on the year before.

The number of casualties dropped to 144 in the 12 months to September – 51% of which resulted in someone going to hospital.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service told Eagle Radio that they are working to reduce the number of people killed in fires:

“Despite arriving in time and with adequate resources, the sad reality is that we aren't always able to save people if the fire has already taken hold.

"The victims being vulnerable due to age or illness is often a contributing factor.

"Whatever the reason, we're always hugely saddened when someone has died as a result of a fire, and we always look to learn lessons and adapt our service so we can save more lives.

“The Making Surrey Safer changes from April 2020 means we will be doing significantly more to prevent emergencies and protect vulnerable people like these in the first place.

"This will include ensuring they have the right fire prevention, knowledge and systems in place and that they know what to do in an emergency.”

NFCC chairman Roy Wilsher said it was “pleasing” to see the reduction in the number of incidents nationally but that it was essential they do not become complacent.

“However, I am very concerned to see the number of fatalities has increased over the same timeframe. I would like to see more information and as to why this is,” he added.

“I have made it clear that fire services are facing huge challenges when it comes to the built environment.

“This was abundantly clear from evidence given during the opening days of the second phase on the Grenfell Tower inquiry.”

He added that fire and rescue services are doing all they can to deal with two decades of building safety failure but the rise in fatalities was part of a worrying trend.

A Home Office spokesman said fire and rescue services will receive around £2.3 billion in 2019/20.

“We are grateful for the continued tireless efforts of firefighters across the country, with fire and rescue services having the resources they need to do their important work.

“Fire-related fatalities remain at historically low levels, decreasing by a fifth in the last 10 years, and there has been major steps forward in prevention work.”