Anger as Hartlepool's fire service sees third highest fall in firefighter numbers in the country

Cleveland Fire Brigade has had the joint-third biggest drop in the number of firefighters of any fire service in the UK since 2010.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 5th September 2019, 9:30 am
The Fire Brigades Union says cuts to the service has led to "overstretched and underpaid firefighters".

According to figures obtained by the Fire Brigade’s Union (FBU) under Freedom of Information, both Cleveland, which covers Hartlepool, and Tyne and Wear have seen a 31% cut in personnel since 2010: 196 firefighters for Cleveland, 292 for Tyne and Wear.

Durham Fire and Rescue saw a drop of 14%, or 80 firefighters. The UK average across the 48 services listed was 19%, a total of 11,468 firefighters.

The union also says that annual pay has been cut in real terms by £6,705.69 since 2008, and that firefighters are currently being consulted on whether to accept a 2% pay increase.

Fire Brigades Union general secretary, Matt Wrack.

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However, firefighter posts nationally have increased by 318 this year – a 1% increase.

The FBU announcement was made before Chancellor Sajid Javid set out his spending review.

The union’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “This shameless government is doing nothing to ease the pressure on overstretched and underpaid firefighters, all while making dubious claims of spending elsewhere."

Cleveland Fire Brigade chief fire officer, Ian Hayton said: “Since 2010-11 the number of whole-time firefighters in Cleveland has reduced by 36%. We have also seen a reduction in our support staff over the same period.

“All our staff are vital to us in delivering our Prevention, Protection and Response activities to keep our communities safe and we cannot continue to deliver the same high standards without investment.

“We have seen in Cleveland in the first quarter of this year a 15% rise in incidents to 2,573 up 336 on the same period last year. Despite these severe reductions in funding and recent increase in incidents, Cleveland is the best fire service in England at keeping residents safe from fire in their homes.”

In 2018-19 there was a 9% rise on the previous year in the number of fires attended in England. Although this was a 24% drop in the total for 2009-10.

In his spending review, Chancellor Sajid Javed said the Government would “turn the page on austerity” and announced that Home Office day-to-day spending would increase by 6.3%.