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Huge drop in number of fire safety inspectors

17 October 2017

FIRE AND rescue services have lost nearly a third of their fire safety inspectors since 2010, according to a new report by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

The FBU compiled the figures from a series of Freedom of Information requests and found a 28% drop in inspector numbers across the UK, which it claims is a “risk to public safety”.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, which covers England’s third biggest city, Leeds, was hardest hit, losing 70% of its inspectors. Fire services in Gloucestershire, Durham, Cumbria, Norfolk and Avon all lost more than half of their fire safety specialists. The impact of the reduction could be worse than feared as 16 fire and rescue services could not provide data on the number of fire safety inspectors they employed in 2010.

Fire safety inspectors are responsible for ensuring that communal buildings and public spaces meet fire safety standards. An essential part of fire prevention, the inspectors have played an important role in the long-term reduction of serious fires – a trend that is under threat if the cuts continue, the FBU has warned.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Fire safety specialists play an essential role in the fire service. They help to enforce fire safety regulations that save lives and prevent damage to property. Fire services need proper funding, more inspectors and greater support if they are to continue keeping people safe.

“Grenfell Tower has underlined the importance of fire safety in buildings. The drastic cut in fire safety inspectors makes it much more difficult for those remaining to do their job effectively. The government needs to wake up to what endless budget cuts have done to the lifesaving fire service.”

HM Inspector of Fire Services in England and Wales, the organisation that had been recording these figures, was scrapped in 2000. Since then, data on inspector numbers has been patchy with some fire services unable to produce figures when asked.