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28 April 2016
The number of fire related deaths jumped to 294 in 2015, a 21% increase from the 242 deaths recorded in 2014, according to the latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The rise comes after a decade in which the long-term trend in the death toll from fires fell, from a peak of 469 in 2003.
The Guardian reports that the chief fire officers from the six largest English cities outside London said the rise was worrying as the fire service faces budget cuts of up to 50 per cent by 2020, from the 2010 benchmark.
A statement from the Association of Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Authorities which covers Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Leeds said: “The budget cuts have seen the loss of frontline firefighters, response times getting longer, stations closing and fire prevention measures reduced too.”
West Midlands Fire Service has said it faces a 46% cut in its budget from £119 million in 2010/11 to £94 million in 2019/20; Greater Manchester’s budget is set to fall 43 per cent from £117 million to £96 million over the same period while West Yorkshire’s will drop 41 per cent from £93 million to £78 million.
Earlier this week, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham attempted a move to resist plans for the takeover of the fire service by police and crime commissioners (PCCs), who face election next month.
Labour called on the Government to commit to statutory, independent fire and rescue services, with added responsibility for flooding, as opposed to legislation allowing PCCs to take responsibility for them.
However, the move was voted down in Parliament.