Budget cuts to fire and rescue services are dangerous. With all of the budget cuts that have happened over the years, the average response time has risen. That puts people in a dangerous situation because when it comes to fires, every second counts. Firefighters know this, as do those unfortunate enough to be involved in a fire.  A few seconds can be the difference between life and death.

Since 2010, over 10,000 firefighters have been axed; dozens of fire stations have closed; fire engines have been scrapped; and emergency rescue equipment has been slashed. Fire service budgets have been reduced by 30 per cent across the UK, with a further 20 per cent of cuts expected by 2020. The effects of 7 years of government cuts on fire service is taking its toll. Every type of incident that the fire service responds to now takes longer compared to 2010.

The Government’s own statistics show that during 2015/2016, 303 people died in fires. That is an unacceptable rise of 15 per cent over the previous year.Firefighters are increasingly finding themselves over stretched and under resourced. The stress of being over-worked and under-funded takes its toll on firefighters as well.

While it is true that the numbers of fires are down across the UK, one must admit that this is largely due to firefighters working with local communities to increase awareness and advise them on fire safety. If they reduce firefighters, this work is carried out less and fires will then increase. Fire prevention is very important and with the reduced number of firefighters, fire prevention and education is reduced as well.  Over time, this reduction in the education of fire prevention will lead to an increased number of fires.

Even if the number of fires has decreased, the size and development of the fires that hasn’t changed. Firefighters still need to be able to arrive quickly and have the proper resources at their disposal or they could find themselves unable to save people.

Hove is a good example of improper or ill-informed budget cut decisions. A fire engine was taken out of service and 24 firefighters were dismissed. This happened even though 10,000 people signed a petition against the cuts. Hove is a growing community and it just doesn’t make sense to cut such a vital service.

Despite the failure of the community in Hove to stop those budget cuts, we should all be standing up for a service any one of us might need in the future. Response times should not be increasing and fire deaths should not rising. We, as a community and country, deserve better.