West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has called on the government to urgently provide funding for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, as the Chancellor prepares for a spending review that will determine fire funding for the next year.
MP Rosie has backed the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) #FundTheFrontline campaign, which demands urgent funding for the recruitment of at least 5,000 firefighters across the UK in the next year.
Lancashire has lost 274 firefighters and emergency fire control staff since 2010, a drop of 21%, while numbers have fallen by more than 11,200 UK-wide – one in every five on the frontline.
Fire and rescue services now respond to 11 of the 12 major threats identified in the UK’s national risk register ranging from major industrial accidents to severe weather. Non-fire incidents have increased significantly, with firefighters responding last year to more non-fire incidents than fires.
Firefighters have stepped in to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, with crews in Lancashire and across the country taking on fourteen new activities, including driving ambulances, delivering supplies and PPE, and moving the bodies of the deceased.
Climate change has accelerated the threat of flooding and wildfires in the UK, with two major bouts of mass-flooding last winter – and more frequent extreme weather has been projected by the Met Office.
MP Rosie has joined firefighters warning the Chancellor that, without proper funding, their ability to respond effectively to multiple largescale emergencies could be seriously impacted.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“Whether it be fires, flooding or pandemics our firefighters are always there when we’re in need – and we need to answer the call now they need our help.
“Austerity has done great damage to our fire and rescue services and, without urgent investment, the safety of our communities here in West Lancashire and across the country will sadly be put at risk.
“In Lancashire we are in the top half of cuts to fire services in England since 2010, seeing the service shrink by over 20%.
“If we’ve learnt anything from this pandemic, it’s that public services need to be properly resourced. I have written to the Chancellor calling on him to start to reverse some of the damage Tory policies have wreaked on our public services – and fund the frontline firefighters who keep us safe.”
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“We’ve been warning for years that cuts to our service could put our communities in danger, but the government just won’t listen.
“Fire and rescue services protect the public from a range of established and growing threats from fires to the effects of climate change, but we cannot guarantee the safety of our communities when operating with so fewer frontline firefighters.
“We’re going into a long wet winter, with the threat of flooding coinciding with a major pandemic – we don’t have any time to waste. We need to pressure the government for urgent funding – and having Rosie Cooper MP advocate for us in Parliament is a crucial first step.”