Firefighters in Lancashire faced their highest number of calls in seven years last year, new Home Office figures show.
Following several years of improvement across the country, the number of call-outs has increased each of the last three years, with the Fire Brigades Union saying public safety is at risk as firefighters are asked to do more with less.
The data shows that the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service dealt with 17,219 calls in the year to September 2018.
It was an increase of nine per cent on the previous year.
Excluding false alarms, firefighters were more likely to be called to incidents involving fires than those which did not, such as traffic accidents – 60 per cent involved fires.
Across England, fire and rescue services dealt with more than 580,000 calls in the year ending September 2018. It represents an increase of 16 per cent compared to three years ago – before then, the number of incidents had declined each year since 2010, when they were first published.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “These figures reveal the immense value of the work of firefighters, and also the scale of the challenge they face with increased cuts to their numbers.
“Year on year we are seeing appalling cuts to the service, with fire and rescue services in England expected to do more with less.
“It is only down to the dedication of fire and rescue staff that the service is performing at all. Firefighters have been ensuring the service delivers, but it is at breaking point. Public safety is being put at risk.”
In total, 5,682 incidents in Lancashire involved fires of some kind. More than 60 per cent were secondary fires – those in which no one was injured, and which caused no damage to property.
More significant primary fires accounted for 38 per cent of incidents, 2,154 in total. There were 1,021 in homes, 490 in other types of buildings and 465 vehicle fires. Of the remainder, 107 were outdoors and 71 were chimney fires.
The service also took 7,741 false alarm calls. More than half of them were caused by apparatus, while 35 per cent were calls with good intentions. Just 311 were considered malicious.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The work of fire and rescue services has changed hugely in recent years.
“While any fire is a cause for concern, these figures show firefighters are attending 26 per cent fewer incidents overall than 10 years ago and 38 per cent fewer fires.
“We are confident that fire and rescue services have the resources they need to do their vital work, and overall they will receive around £2.3bn in 2019-20.”