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NFCC calls for sustained funding as Home Office issues latest Prevention and Protection statistics

14 September 2020

ROY WILSHER, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), has called for sustained funding from the Government for England’s Fire and Rescue Services following the release of the Home Office’s latest Prevention and Protection statistics.

The figures, which cover the year from April 2019 to March 2020, include statistics on Home Fire Safety Checks and Fire Safety Audits. In the last year, Fire and Rescue Services have carried out 581,917 Home Fire Safety Checks, including 489,922 for those who are disabled or aged 65 and over. This is testament to the focus Fire and Rescue Services have placed on targeted interventions and offering key advice to those who are most at risk from fire episodes.

This is one element of the Fire and Rescue Services’ prevention work specifically designed to manage community risk as part of individual Integrated Risk Management Planning and very much aimed at adopting a person-centred approach towards identifying and addressing the underlying cause of fire.

The number of Fire Safety Audits carried out in 2019-2020 was 48,414. Shops were the most common type of premises to be audited, followed by Care Homes, with 66% of audits (ie 31,978) deemed as being satisfactory.

The statistics also revealed that Fire and Rescue Services carried out 83,348 other fire safety activities in 2019-2020, representing an increase of 11% when compared with 75,036 in 2018-2019.

Prevention and protection work

Reflecting on the Home Office’s statistics, Roy Wilsher (pictured, right) observed: “As the latest figures show, Fire and Rescue Services continue to work extremely hard, delivering excellent prevention and protection work and carrying out an additional 8,312 other fire safety activities during 2019-2020. Although these latest Home Office figures reveal an 8% reduction in Home Fire Safety Checks, Fire and Rescue Services are better at targeting the work and are committed to delivering an improved risk focus to ensure the most vulnerable in our communities receive the best possible fire safety advice and support.”

Wilsher continued: “This year’s statistics have also highlighted a very small decline in Fire Safety Audits. Reduced protection capacity is an area which has been highlighted consistently by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, which is directly related to austerity and the subsequent 23% reduction in whole-time firefighters since 2010.”

This year, Fire Protection in English Fire and Rescue Services has received £16 million investment from Government, plus another £4 million fed through to the NFCC’s Protection Hub to improve central co-ordination, guidance and input to issues like the new Fire Safety Bill. Wilsher stated: “We welcome the extra Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government funding this year, but would want to see that baselined through the Spending Review.”

Further, Wilsher went on to comment: “Currently, we don’t know what the economic impact of COVID-19 will be on the public sector, but it’s essential people continue to receive an excellent level of service. Resourcing to risk, maintaining the number of firefighters, better resilience, investing in people and vital prevention and protection work are all areas the Government must consider to ensure Fire and Rescue Services can continue to provide the services communities need and, indeed, have come to expect.”

Key findings

Key findings from the 2019-2020 Home Office statistics highlight the following:

*581,917 Home Fire Safety Checks conducted

*489,922 Home Fire Safety Checks carried out for those who are disabled or aged 65 and over

*11% increase in the number of other fire safety activities transacted

*48,414 Fire Safety Audits carried out

*Most common type of premises audited was shops (7,880 or 16% of the total)

*Issued 2,295 formal notices (less than in 2018-2019), 347 enforcement notices, 788 prohibition notices, 108 alteration notices and 52 prosecutions

The full set of statistics can be found by visiting the Home Office website