Fire services in England suffer 25% cut to safety officer numbers


More than a quarter of specialist fire safety staff have left their positions at fire services in England since 2011, as discovered by an investigation by UK based newspaper, the Guardian.
Fire safety officers have a host of responsibilities, which include carrying out inspections of high-risk buildings in order to make sure they comply with safety legislation, while they can also take action against landlords whose buildings are deemed unsafe.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Guardian had the figures released to them, which showed that the number of specialist staff in 26 fire services had been cut from 924 to 680 – a drop of 244 officers between 2011 and 2017.
According to the National Audit Office, the government cut back on its funding for fire services by between 26% and 29% between 2011 and 2016, which as a result resulted in a 17% average real-terms reduction in spending power.
Cumbria, County Durham, Avon, Darlington and Gloucestershire are among the worst affected fire services, with staffing being cut by more than half in those areas.
The timing of the figures isn’t ideal for the UK government, as they were released after the government announced an indecent review of building regulations and fire safety following the Grenfell Tower disaster back in June.
Police believe that at least 80 people died as fire took over the entire building, and it’s feared that number could significantly rise.
Unsurprisingly, the decrease in staffing for the fire services has been mirrored by a drop in the number of enforcement notices and inspections, both of which are issued whenever a building violates safety regulations.
Back in 2010/11, there was 84,575 audits in England – however there were 63,201 in 2015/16, which is a drop of 25%. As well as this, the number of enforcement notices dropped at an alarmingly faster rate according to the Home Office figures, with fire services claiming there was a 45% reduction over the same period.

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