Headlines: September 8th, 2008

Figures published today show that fire services are rescuing more than 300 people a week from fires and road accidents. The figures have been released for the first time by the Fire Brigades Union.

The FBU says the total number of people rescued by the fire service will be larger than the 322 in today’s report because some statistics, such as numbers of people rescued from flooding, or the London terrorist attacks, are not included. The FBU says its figures are the most recent and reliable available and are based on answers to parliamentary questions, Freedom of Information Act requests and some historical data from official UK fire statistics. While many rescues are recorded, the union says, central Government does not make the figures public.

Today’s report shows more than 83,000 people were rescued from fires and vehicle crashes across the UK between 2001 and 2005 and that more than 190,000 have been rescued since records began in 1990. The overall number of recorded rescues, the report says, is at record or near record levels. The union believes official figures are an underestimate because they do not count people who are evacuated from their homes with the assistance of the fire service for their own safety or assisted in other ways. The union also says that the figures on rescues from road accidents represent an absolute minimum, as they assume for England and Wales that one person only is rescued in each collision.

The FBU General Secretary, Matt Wrack, said, “Everyone in the fire service knows there is terrible human tragedy behind all these incidents. Lives are lost as well as saved and families, friends and communities are left devastated. These figures are not a celebration of the work of the fire service but they do underline that there is hope, help, rescue and survival as well as tragedy and loss.”

The FBU research, the first ever published on UK fire service rescues, includes breakdown by English region, as well as Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and for each of the UK’s 57 fire and rescue services.