Cathy said: “The report raises several important concerns about the current state of the service. The increase in fatalities is worrying, and the report has identified some possible causes that should be addressed to improve the effectiveness of the service and the safety of firefighters. These include concerns about levels of training; weaknesses and failures in emergency planning set by local risk management plans; and a failure to ensure that lessons learned are taken into account across the UK service. There is also no consistent definition of what constitutes a ‘reportable’ death.”
The FBU report highlights that
- Deaths on duty of firefighters for the five years 2003-2007 have risen sharply compared with the previous five years (1998-2002).
- Eight firefighters died on duty in 2007 – the worst year for firefighter deaths since 1985.
- The trend in deaths of firefighters at incidents declined through the 1970s, 80s and 90s. But it has risen sharply since 2003.
- Thirteen firefighters were killed at incidents between 2003 and 2007. However, for almost seven years prior to that period there were no firefighter deaths at incidents.
- Official records are not kept systematically, resulting in official figures being lower than the actual figures.
The report recommends
- Working with the other countries in the UK to agree on what records should be kept;
- Establishing a UK-wide system for recording firefighter fatalities and serious injuries;
- The establishment of a standard-setting body that will issue safety critical guidance and procedural advice and a guarantee by the Scottish Government to provide sufficient resources for this body; and
- Working closely with the UK Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies on these issues, to spread best practice and ensure safety, resilience and interoperability across the UK.