Fires claimed 16 lives in West Yorkshire in last year

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Fires claimed 16 lives and led to more than more than 360 casualties in West Yorkshire over the last year, new figures show.

The Fire Brigades Union said that an increase in fire deaths across the country showed that services are in “crisis”.

Embargoed to 0001 Tuesday March 27 Undated file photo of a firefighters tackling a blaze. Arsonists could face tougher punishments if their crimes result in damage to listed buildings or a major emergency response under new sentencing plans.

Embargoed to 0001 Tuesday March 27 Undated file photo of a firefighters tackling a blaze. Arsonists could face tougher punishments if their crimes result in damage to listed buildings or a major emergency response under new sentencing plans.

New Home Office figures show that 11 people died at home, two outdoors and three in vehicles, in incidents attended by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service between July 2017 and June 2018.

Across England, there were 247 fatalities recorded over the 12 months.

The FBU said that years of cuts meant a downward trend in fire deaths had stalled in recent years, with one in five firefighter jobs lost since 2010.

Dave Green, the union’s national official, said: “The government continues to bury its head in the sand with regard to its responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service. They have stripped it of central funding and then pushed the blame to local authorities.

“The reality is the service is in crisis. Firefighters don’t have time to give routine fire safety advice, to do safety inspections on premises and are having to cope with attending emergencies with fewer and fewer resources.

“This situation cannot continue and all responsible politicians need to address this as a matter of urgency. The tragedy is that a service that was once the best in the world is being dismantled before our eyes by this uncaring government”.

There were also 363 fire-related casualties recorded in West Yorkshire over the last 12 months, most commonly occurring in homes.

Of all casualties, 27 were severe. A further 153 required hospital treatment for minor injuries.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government recognises the vital role firefighters continue to play in protecting communities.

“Over the past 10 years the total number of fire incidents in England has nearly halved – down 46 per cent – and work to prevent fires from starting in the first place has seen real success.”

The figures also show the work done by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in preventing fires. In the 2017-18 financial year, they carried out 18,477 home fire safety checks, mostly for elderly and disabled residents.

They also carried out more than 19,259 hours’ worth of campaigns to alert people to the importance of fire safety.