New Home Office figures show that cuts to Cheshire’s fire and rescue service have seen staff numbers fall by 10.5% since 2010, and that across England and Wales deaths as a result of fire increased by 20% in the past year.
Responding to these findings Chris Matheson, Member of Parliament for Chester said:
“The government needs to think very carefully – austerity has gone too far and it is putting lives at risk.”
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Fire and Rescue Services, Chris Williamson, said:
“Labour is calling for moratorium of further cuts to the service. We will invest in 3,000 new fire fighters to save lives and save money. Our pro-public and pro-business approach is simple common sense.”
The Association of British Insurers has indicated that the UK could lose up to £10bn as a result of commercial and industrial fires by 2020.
The number of fire safety inspectors has also fallen by 28% nationally.
Commenting on the number of fire safety inspectors, Chris Matheson said:
“These cuts are forcing a reduction in the number of fire safety inspectors too, which means the government is quite literally playing with fire. These inspectors check hospitals, schools, offices and shops to make sure owners are complying with safety law. There’s little point in law and regulation if there’s no one available to enforce it.”
In recent months, Chris has brought together ex-fire fighters and high-ranking officers at Cheshire Fire Service to discuss the impact of cuts locally, and in December he is hosting a meeting about fire safety with the Shadow Fire Minister and MPs from across Cheshire.