Watchdog warns number of fire safety audits have fallen by 42%
The number of fire safety audits carried out by the emergency services in England has fallen by 42 per cent since 2010, according to official figures.
A recent report by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services show the number of audits being carried out has decreased dramatically from 84,575 in 2010/11 to 49,423 in 2017/18.
The report adds fire service protection teams have not been given sufficient resources to do their work.
“The consequences of long-term under-investment in this critical area are too often evident,” it adds.
The watchdog found eight of the 14 services it evaluated required improvement and one – Avon – was rated as inadequate in the way they protect the public through the regulation of fire safety.
“This is the first time that fire and rescue services have been independently inspected in 12 years, and so it is not surprising perhaps that we found that there is some work for services to do,” said Her Majesty’s Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, Zoe Billingham.
“For example, a vital part of a fire and rescue service’s role is to ensure that premises are being kept safe, but protection work is not a priority currently. This integral part of a fire and rescue service’s role has not been given sufficient focus and that needs to change.”
Comment from Matt Wrack, Fire Brigade Union
Commenting on the report, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigade’s Union, Matt Wrack, said the number of fire safety inspectors has fallen by 28% since 2010.
“It’s unsurprising that there has been such a drastic reduction in the number of fire safety audits,” added Mr Wrack.
“This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cuts – we know firefighters are being asked to do more with less. Ministers must urgently invest in the fire and rescue service, and in particular in fire safety resources, to ensure that the public are kept safe.”
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