Number of house fires at 10-year low in Suffolk, but crews still need support says union

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.

Fire crews have rescued two people from a vehicle after a crash involving two vehicles - Credit: Nick Butcher

The number of house fires attended by Suffolk fire service has hit a 10-year low, but more funding is needed to help tackle non-fire incidents which are being increased by climate change, officers say.

Kevin Driver, Suffolk FBU brigade secretary, rescuing a cat. Picture: ALEX FAIRFULL

Kevin Driver, Suffolk FBU brigade secretary, rescuing a cat. Picture: ALEX FAIRFULL

Figures released by the government show that the number of house fires attended by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service has reduced by 34% in the past 10 years.

Crews attended 276 house fire incidents in the 2019/20 financial year, down from 419, 10 years earlier.

The fire service also saw a drop in the number of car crashes they attended, going to 287 incident, down from 307.

Vehicle fires, and other non-fire related incidents have also seen incidents go down.

However, Kevin Driver, Suffolk FBU brigade secretary, said that despite the number of fires going down, the number of non-fire incidents, such as flooding and wild fires has gone up.

He said: “There are yearly fluctuations in incident statistics, but the need for our service is consistent – when a fire or another emergency breaks out, Suffolk residents need their firefighters there as quickly as possible. That will never change.

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“Firefighters have always responded to a range of non-fire emergencies, ranging from flooding to road traffic collisions to hazardous chemical incidents.

“Our non-fire work has increased year-on-year in Suffolk and firefighters have this year come to the aid of health and social care workers responding to coronavirus.

“This pandemic has shown the value of properly resourced public services and, with climate change threatening to bring about more mass-flooding and wildfires, we need real investment to make our service fit for the future.”

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service say they have been working in the community and on social media to offer safety advice to reduce the risks of fire in Suffolk.

Julie Richer, Community Manager for Prevention, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our aim for our prevention activity and education, is to see a reduction in the number of incidents we attend.

“We make Safer Home Visits which are targeted at the most vulnerable and most at risk, where fire safety advice is given during each visit and observations made of any identifiable risks. We can provide equipment such as smoke alarms and fire-retardant bedding.

“We have an amazing team of community fire volunteers who also give fire safety advice to members of the public at community events.

“We have a programme of education for young people through Crucial Crew events, which teach Year 6 children about fire safety, along with other sessions delivered by other partners on everything from first aid to being safe online.

“Along with Suffolk County Council, we are a partner in the Suffolk Roadsafe Partnership, where we work with the police, ambulance service and others to make our roads safer.

“We also work closely with local businesses, schools and landlords supporting them to make their premises safe and to comply with fire safety regulations.

“Of course, many community events this year have been impacted by Covid-19 but we continue to use social media to deliver fire safety messages.”

The fire service have also offered advice to residents to prevent fire as the weather becomes colder.

They suggest that chimneys are swept in homes with an open fire, and that candles and electric heaters are not left unattended.

There are also warnings about overloading power sockets, smoking indoors and regular maintenance of tumble dryers.

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