Cleveland Fire Authority funding warning as brigade bids to maintain top performance in country

Cleveland Fire Brigade headquarters in Hartlepool.
Cleveland Fire Brigade headquarters in Hartlepool.

Fire chiefs warned of the impact government cuts could have as they aim to continue to improve on ‘considerable success’ in recent times.

Cleveland Fire Authority members praised the success the brigade has had in recent years, leading it to becoming the safest area in the country for avoiding house fires.

However Coun Rob Cook, Hartlepool Borough Council representative on the committee, hit out over government funding cuts to the brigade, warning the lack of funds could impact their impressive performance and endanger lives.

It came as Cleveland Fire Authority Executive Committee backed its community safety strategy for 2018 to 2022.

Ray Khaliq, director of technical services, said: “I am confident it will take us forward to continued success.

“It’s there to help us build on the considerable success we have had over the past years.

“In the past we have had high numbers of fire calls, over the last 10 years we have reduced those by 40% which is a considerable reduction.

“You have a lower risk of having a fire in the home in Cleveland than anywhere else in the country.

“This is against the backdrop of austerity, increasing crime rates, huge challenges with social deprivation, and a £7million reduction in real terms in our budget.”

He also added fires in buildings have reduced by 60% over the past 10 years and there has been a 32% reduction in road traffic collisions.

Going forward the authority is focusing to reduce incidents further and target areas such as improved security of bins to reduce fires.

Coun Cook later added he was concerned the brigade could miss out on funding due to the positive performance.

He said: “I always think to myself because we do reduce the number of incidents etc, the Government think cuts like that don’t affect us because we are providing a better service now than we have ever done.

“It would be tragic if all of a sudden things turned around and we have an increase in fires, and increase in the number of injuries and fatalities and so-forth, that’s the worst possible scenario.

“It seems as if the Government are not prepared to listen to the fact because we keep proving with our figures that things are getting better.

“I don’t know what the answer is but there will come a time when that will cease to be the case and there will be a drastic loss of life or property.

“That might make them sit up and realise that they need to put more money in.”

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service