THE Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has branded an increase in fire fatalities across England as 'terrifying' as the latest figures have been released for the North East and North Yorkshire.

Nationally, there were 280 fire-related deaths in 2021 – a 27 per cent increase on the previous year and the highest number since 2017, when the Grenfell Tower disaster killed 72 people.

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In County Durham, Home Office statistics show two people died as a result of fires attended by the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFS) last year – up from one the year prior but in line with 2019.

There was also a rise in fire callouts, with crews attending 3,729 incidents in County Durham last year, up from 3,484 in 2020.

There were 52 fire-related casualties in the county in 2021, according to the Government statistics, of which 23 required hospital treatment.

Four people died as a result of fires attended by the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service last year – up from none in 2020, but in line with 2019.

There was a decline in fire callouts to the North Yorkshire service in 2021, with crews attending 1,714, down from 1,762 in 2020.

In Cleveland, there were three fire-related deaths in the year ending December 2021.

CDDFRS emergency response group manager, Ian Irving, said the incident figures for County Durham are in line with the Covid pandemic and reflect a national trend of a reduction in 2020 and then an increase, or a return to expected levels, in 2021.

He said: “We are encouraged that house fires did not increase during the national lockdown, this largely due to the proactive work of our staff performing home fire safety visits and ensuring the public are protected in their homes."

Mr Irving added that public safety and fire prevention 'have always been at the heart of the service’ offered to the community.

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said it also recognises how important the provision of prevention advice is amongst the activities that it carries out.

She said: "The best incident is the one that never happens, where no-one is put at risk because the right steps have been taken to keep life and property safe."

The FBU has called the rising number of fire-related deaths nationally an "utter tragedy" but said that it is not surprising, given Government cuts to firefighting services over the last decade.

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Branding Westminster responsible, Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: "The Government has cut around 11,000 firefighters since 2010 and response times have lengthened.

"This should serve as a real wake-up call – as if they needed yet another."

The Home Office said it has delivered a successful "Fire Kills" campaign and is working with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to bring forward further fire safety reform.

It has provided the NFCC with a £1.1 million grant to deliver fire prevention awareness programmes and a Home Office spokesperson said: "We are committed to fire prevention awareness to save lives.

"Every life lost to fire is a tragedy and, while they are down 12 per cent when compared with ten years ago, we know there is more to do."


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