07 September 2015
The Fire Brigades Union has raised concerns about a rise in accidental deaths related to house fires in West Yorkshire over the last few months.
Between April and July 2015, eight people perished in non-deliberate fires a fourfold increase on 2014 statistics. Many of the fatalities were elderly, with the oldest being 99 years old.
Ian Bitcon, fire safety manager for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said crews got to every fire within the target response times and insisted the spike was a statistical anomaly.
He said: “We are concerned and statistically it’s very unusual. But the number of fire deaths we have had has been gradually falling over the last 26 years and we are at the bottom of that curve now.”
However, the Fire Brigades Union suggested that heavy cuts to the fire service could be the reason for the spike.
Dave Williams, secretary of the FBU in West Yorkshire, said: “Certainly the number of deaths in this short timescale is unique, but the problem we have got is that it’s something we said would happen at the time [when cuts were being discussed].
“If you are unable to save yourself in the case of a fire, the thing that will save you isn’t a smoke detector, it’s a firefighter and when minutes matter, those firefighters need to be available instantly.”