09:44 19 May 2013
According to former chief fire and rescue adviser Sir Ken, fire incidents were down by 40per cent for more than 10 years. However, the number of fire fighters remains roughly the same. This according to him, costs the government £200million per year.
Although his report did not contain recommendations, it listed a number of ideas that ministers would want to consider. These include merging fire and other emergency services to save money. The other suggestion to privatize the fire service was quickly dismissed by the ministers according to a government spokesman.
Sir Ken is convinced that making adjustments to the service is necessary. He told the BBC: "When I was a firefighter, fire deaths in the home were 700 and 800 a year. Now, they're 180 a year.
"It's a really good news story, but the service itself must adapt and change, not only to maintain that fire safety and prevention front, but to adapt its service.
"So why have - even though those fires have gone down 40% - the number of firefighters remained broadly the same.
"It's a question that the local authorities and fire authorities will need to address and need to answer."
On the other hand, Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said that cutting jobs in the fire service will result to poorer service for the public. He also did not agree with Sir Ken’s recommendation to decrease the number of full-time firefighters.
He said, as reported by the BBC: "In a full-time fire service, firefighters are available in a matter of seconds - a huge difference in time from someone mobilised from home."
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