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LGA: elderly people at risk if fire service funding is not increased

Councils have called on the government to increase funding to fire services in order to protect elderly people, who are more at risk of an accident.

In the last two years there has been a 22% increase in the number of over-65s who have died in in fire-related incidents.

Government funding for these services will fall by around 38% between 2015 and 2020. However, an ageing population and an increasing number of people living in rented accommodation means there is likely to be a higher risk of residential fire deaths.

Although the number of total fires has fallen in recent years, the number of “deliberate primary fires” – those which involve rescues or casualties – have actually risen.

“These trends present a growing risk factor and cannot be ignored,” commented Cllr Ian Stephens, chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee. “We are urging the chancellor not to make any further reductions to fire service funding in the Autumn Budget to ensure resources and capability are not jeopardised.”

The UK’s over-85 population is set to more than double by 2039, meaning the proportion of people at greatest risk of fire-related death will rise. Councils are pointing to the increase to suggest service funding should increase before the danger can be realised.

Stephens continued: “The fire service needs to be funded to risk, not demand, to ensure it can respond to unanticipated local and national events, such as the Grenfell Tower disaster.

“After cutting the number of fires by half in the last decade, fire services are saving lives and delivering better services for local people, through cost-effective initiatives such as pioneering prevention work, targeted safe and well visits, and collaboration with other blue light services and partners, to help communities, including the most vulnerable. Reduced funding could undermine these achievements and put lives at risk.”

Following the Grenfell Tower incident in June, the issue of fire safety in residential buildings has been increasingly important. In August, the FIA called for changes to measures and assessments in order to ensure local authorities can protect residents.

Top image: Darren Felon

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