Fire chiefs fight to keep low rate of house fires in Hartlepool amid deep funding cuts

Fire Authority chiefs said they face ‘a period of uncertainty’ financially as they fight to keep people safe.

Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 17:59 pm
Chief fire Officer Ian Hayton

Bosses at Cleveland Fire Authority said numerous years of government cuts have led to a reduction in finances and staffing.

However they are hoping to maintain its rate of accidental dwelling fires, for which it is rated best in the country.

They are also looking to cut down on the number of deliberate fires, with 85% of all incidents firefighters called out on deliberately started.

Chief fire officer Ian Hayton gave a presentation at the Cleveland Fire Authority annual general meeting providing an overview of the problems they face and the priorities for the upcoming year.

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Alongside recurring cuts, several new national funding reviews and schemes, including providing increased pension funding, are yet to be finalised and could have an impact on the fire service’s finances, according to Mr Hayton.

He said: “We are in a period of uncertainty in relation to our financial position.

Mr Hayton added government grant cuts from 2011/12 have taken 44% of the budget – £11million in cash – seeing a 36% reduction in staff.

“There’s been station closures, we’ve lost specialist appliances, we’ve had numerous management structural reviews to manage that deficit as we’ve gone forward.

However despite the cuts Cleveland Fire Authority remains the best performing authority in the country for the rate of accidental dwelling fires.

Mr Hayton said: “The good is we have the lowest rate of accidental dwelling fires in the country, we are twice as good as the national average.

“That’s the lowest rate in the country and has been for the last few years now, that’s of great pride to us.

“We have the fastest response times in the country. We pride ourselves that the faster you get there clearly the more likely you will save more properties and the environment.

“The negative side is in relation to deliberate fires, 85% of all fires we go to is deliberate fire setting or arson, and we appreciate we’ve got an issue with that.

“It’s a major issue that we have been trying to deal with.”