Firefighters facing ‘increasing challenges’ from high risk roads and growing Hartlepool population

Cleveland Fire Brigade headquarters.
Cleveland Fire Brigade headquarters.

Firefighters have been praised after it was revealed they face increasing challenges in the area with issues such as ‘high risk’ roads and housing growth.

Cleveland Fire Authority executive committee received an update on the risks firefighters face in the area which it covers, including Hartlepool and the A19.

Coun Rob Cook, representing Hartlepool on the committee, noted several aspects in which work is becoming more difficult for firefighters but praised their continued efforts and added they offer value for money.

He said: “In Hartlepool we’re all aware that our housing has increased dramatically and will do so for the next 10 to 15 years.

“It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to accommodate the increase in homes and people.

“The type of area we are in there is a lot of deprivation, some of the statistics really show that.

“It is really alarming.

“The fire service do a really good job under extenuating circumstances with the cuts and everything that they have to deal with.

“The authority do so much and they do give excellent value for money.”

During 2017/18 council tax paid to the fire authority for a Band D property was the equivalent of £73.06 a year on average, compared to a national average of £73.29, while Durham and Darlington Fire Authority receives £97.65.

Statistics provided by the fire authority found that 38% of Cleveland’s wards fall within the 10% most deprived wards nationally and more than half the population live in wards in the worst 20%.

Currently there are 249,221 homes in Cleveland which is expected to increase by 27,470 by 2032.

By 2041 the population is also expected to increase by 10,100, almost 2%.

Fire authority members also said in the Cleveland area there are high number of roads deemed ‘high risk’ for accidents.

Committee chair Coun Jan Brunton Dobson, representing Middlesbrough Council,  said: “It really stood out to me the amount of road traffic collisions we have and that we attend, there seems to be a lot on the A19.”

In 2017/18 Cleveland Fire Brigade attended 314 road traffic collisions, while police statistics showed there was nine people killed and 863 injured in incidents on the roads last year.

Chief fire officer Ian Hayton explained the difficulties with busy roads they have in the area but said the authority strives to perform to the best of its ability.

He said: “A19 has more traffic going through it than the A1 at equivalent points in Durham.

“Because of the industry you get a significant number of tankers going in and out of the area.

“Most roads we have are classified as high risk for potential accidents.

“We put a lot of resources into supporting people in our area in their homes and the community.

“Our performance in relation to dwelling fires is second to none, we have the best rates of keeping people safe in their homes and one of the fastest response standards.”

Where the A19 crosses the Tees it carries over 96,000 vehicles per day which is 123% more than the number of vehicles using the A1M at the equivalent point.

Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service