New figures have revealed a major shortage in UK firefighters during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The data, released by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), showed that firefighters were responding to UK emergencies with 11,237 fewer personnel. The new figures also reveal that brigades around the country have lost a third of frontline firefighters since 2010.
The combined threats of climate change-related events such as flooding and wildfires, pandemics, terrorism, and the post-Grenfell buildings safety crisis will require the immediate funding for at least 5,000 new firefighters in the next year.
Public face a ‘roll of the dice’
The FBU warned that, without additional crews, the public face a “roll of the dice” every time a major incident occurs, with emergency services hoping that it won’t coincide with something else serious.
The new figures revealed that the UK has seen a 19 per cent drop in the number of firefighters and control staff since 2010.
The staffing shortage has left fire and rescue services forced to send out engines with just three firefighters on board - two short of the minimum required to safely perform a rescue or tackle a fire.
Firefighters are major frontline responders to 11 of the 12 risks in the UK government’s national risk register, which includes pandemics; severe weather; coastal and inland flooding; major industrial accidents; as well as attacks on transport; crowded places and critical national infrastructure; and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) attacks.
They have also seen increases in workload through inspections, preventions and enforcement work, without being provided funding to hire more personnel, because of the government’s Building Safety and Fire Safety Bills that were created after the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The FBU has launched its #FundTheFrontline campaign to push the government for urgent investment in the one year spending review.
The campaign has asked firefighters and members of the public to write to their MPs, demanding the funding increase for the firefighters service.
How to apply to be a firefighter
You can apply to be a firefighter through job application portals when they are accepting applications.
Willing applicants will be able to check whether there are any vacancies through their local fire service website.
You can see a full list of the UK Fire and Rescue Services here.
In Scotland, you can apply through the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website.