Attacks on firefighters up 66%

Tougher sentences are needed to help tackle a rise in attacks on fire crews, the LGA has said.

Latest government figures show that attacks on firefighters in England have surged by 66 per cent in four years, from 578 in 2014/15 to 961 in 2018/19, with the number injured up 175 per cent, from 24 to 66.

The attacks, which have increased during lockdown in some areas, put firefighters at risk of serious injury, and can cause a vehicle to be withdrawn from service.

Cllr Ian Stephens, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said: “The senseless, violent actions of a minority of people put firefighters at risk of injury or even worse and can also stop them from attending an emergency where lives may be at risk.

“Increasing the maximum sentence for assaults on firefighters will show that these attacks will not be tolerated.”

Meanwhile, the LGA is calling for government to work with it to ensure fire and rescue services have enough funding for prevention work, as new figures show more than two million homes in England – almost one in 10 – do not have a working smoke alarm, while only a quarter of those with an alarm test it every month.

Fire and rescue services have experienced a huge increase in demand for prevention and protection work  and safety checks following the Grenfell Tower fire, while the workforce has fallen alongside reductions in government funding.

The LGA says this is unsustainable unless the new provisions or expectations on fire and rescue services arising from the Hackitt review are treated as a new burden and funded separately.

“Extra funding to help with the increase in prevention work will help firefighters increase the rate of working smoke alarms,” said Cllr Stephens.


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