Fire deaths rise by 21% as chiefs issue cuts warning
From The Guardian: Chief fire officers have warned that further budget cuts pose a risk to community safety as official figures revealed the biggest increase in fire deaths for a decade.
Their warning comes as MPs vote on Tuesday on a Labour move to block the takeover of the fire service by police and crime commissioners, who face election next month.
The latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that 294 people died in fires in England during 2015, an increase of 21% compared with the 242 deaths recorded in 2014 and the largest increase since figures were published in 2001-02.
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 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% by 2020, from the 2010 benchmark.
“The budget cuts have seen the loss of frontline firefighters, response times getting longer, stations closing and fire prevention measures reduced too,” said a statement from the Association of Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Authorities who cover Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Leeds.